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Into The Dark (TV Review)

Into The Dark (TV Review)
5 10

SYNOPSIS:  In partnership with Blumhouse Television, Into The Dark is a horror event series from prolific, award-winning producer, Jason Blum’s independent TV studio. The series includes 12 super-sized episodes, with a new installment released each month inspired by a holiday and will feature Blumhouse’s signature genre/thriller spin on the story.

REVIEW: Themed horror films are a mixed bag, especially ones based on holidays. For every HALLOWEEN and BLACK CHRISTMAS, there are countless mediocre and just plain awful movies that try to turn annual celebrations into fodder for serial killers and monsters. Plus, some holidays just aren't very scary. The ambitous anthology Into The Dark aims to change that with their year-long horror series. With a single episode set to air per month, the Blumhouse produced horror event is less a television show and more a format to present a dozen feature films that are not quite good enough for the big screen. Despite a formula with great potential, Into The Dark sputters with a lackluster first episode, "The Body", which wastes the slam dunk horror holiday of Halloween by presenting an overlong and cliche slasher story that tries too hard to spoof Millennials.

"The Body" is based on the short film of the same name by Paul Davis which starred Alfie Allen. Both the feature length and short films share the same plot: a hitman must deal with several unfortunate obstacles while trying to dispose of a corpse on Halloween night. The hitman, here played by Tom Bateman (SNATCHED) is a suave British killer who dresses impeccably and has a very high opinion of himself. When he is unable to use her car, he falls in with a trio of twentysomethings who think he is wearing a costume and drag him along to a party in exchange for the promise of a ride. Eventually, they learn that the killer is not wearing a costume at which point the story changes gears to a typical slasher formula. Along the way, there are copious jokes about Millennials being reliant on social media and being unable to handle situations because they have been sheltered their entire lives.

Aside from Rebecca Rittenhouse (The Handmaid's Tale, The Mindy Project) and Ray Santiago (Ash vs Evil Dead), the cast are all relative unknowns. The story does have a fair share of blood and violence but nothing that will come as much of a surprise. Even the final act of the film is easy to spot if you have ever seen any serial killer movies before. There is also the problem with the tone as it switches from grim to something along the lines of SCREAM's self referential humor. Unfortunately, the jokes never quite land and feel very out of place in the story as a whole. Having seen the original 17-minute short film, this longer version uses the same music, dialogue and framing as the original but pads it out with unnecessary new characters. Most of the scenes between the opening and closing of the film don't do anything aside from keep the characters busy until the twist ending.

The other big problem is the under-used conceit that each episode is based around a holiday. Yes, this episode takes place on Halloween but the setting seems tacked on to get this film to fit into the overall theme of Into The Dark as a series. There is a Halloween party and characters in costumes, but if you are going to make the holiday seem like an important factor then it should work more organically into the story. The Body could have been set on any night of the year and it would have been the exact same plot. The filming of the episode also never rises about the quality of a made for TV movie which undermines the scope of the story being told. There are better horror movies at your local Redbox than this.

But there is still potential in the mix for Into The Dark as there are eleven other stories that could work better than The Body. Having seen the second, Thanksgivng-themed episode, there is definitely improvement past this first tale but there is still a lack of originality to really make this series destination viewing. I do enjoy the idea that we only get one feature length episode a month, but they feel half an hour too long. There is a lot that could have been excised from The Body to make it a tighter and more enjoyable hour and the same could be said for the second episode. But, I do recommend you stick around past the Halloween entry as the tone of the next episode, while still unbalanced, is much better than this. I am just disappointed that no one decided to take Eli Roth's cue and turn his GRINDHOUSE trailer into the holiday-themed horror movie we really should have gotten.

Into The Dark premieres new episodes monthly beginning with the first episode on October 5th on Hulu.

Source: JoBlo.com

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