Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work (Movie Review)

PLOT: The boss of a private equity company invites a couple of his employees over to a Christmas party that turns out to be an intense competition for a promotion.

REVIEW: It's already a given that I'm going to be watching every movie that's released as part of the Blumhouse / Hulu collaboration Into the Dark, but this year's Christmas installment A NASTY PIECE OF WORK would have been on my list to watch whether it was part of the Into the Dark series or not. The film stars the WARLOCK himself, Julian Sands; it was written by Paul Soter, a member of the Broken Lizard comedy group; and it was directed by Charles Hood. Hood isn't as well known as the other two, and before this I didn't even know him as a filmmaker myself. He co-hosts a Mission: Impossible fan podcast I listen to, so I was interested in seeing what a horror movie directed by that M:I fanboy would be like.

If this film's mixture of collaborators has you similarly hyped, I would advise that you temper expectations. A NASTY PIECE OF WORK is not a very eventful movie – nor is it what I would consider to be a horror movie, and I'm usually very lenient about what I count as horror. I would categorize this as a comedic thriller, and given that the majority of Soter's work has been in comedy, it's not surprising that it does lean very heavily into comedic territory. The characters do awful things to each other, but the movie is packed with humorous dialogue. Including an obvious reference to the comedy classic CHRISTMAS VACATION.

Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work Charles Hood Julian Sands

Sands plays Steve Essex, the boss at a private equity company called Falconheart Ventures. After announcing to his employees that they will not be getting Christmas bonuses this year (and he also won't be signing them up for a Jelly of the Month club, as some have suggested), Steve invites two of those employees over to his mansion for what they believe to be a big holiday party. Ted (Kyle Howard) has been desperately trying to impress Steve for years, but feels he's being overshadowed by a brown noser named Gavin (Dustin Milligan). As it turns out, Ted and Gavin are the only people who have been invited to Steve's place… and they're not there to party. Instead, Steve is putting them through an "unorthodox job interview" to see which of them should get a new high-level job that's about to be created at Falconheart.

A solid hour of this 78 minute movie consists of Steve, Ted, Gavin, Steve's ball-breaking wife Kiwi (Molly Hagen), Ted's wife Tatum (Angela Sarafyan), and Gavin's wife Missy (Natalie Hall) interacting in the Essex mansion. There's Christmas cheer all over the place in the set design, but there is nothing cheerful about what happens between these characters.

The majority of Into the Dark movies are actually stories that focus on a small group of characters in limited locations, and this is another to add to the list of entries that have been like that. Steve is playing a very sick game with his employees, eventually there are threats of physical violence and the rifles that hang on the walls of the den do get a fair amount of use, but for the most part A NASTY PIECE OF WORK is a dialogue-driven film. If you're not in the mood to watch Sands and his co-stars do a whole lot of talking to each other, don't start streaming this one. I love several movies that are basically just about a small group of people talking to each other in limited locations, but even I started to get restless during this one.

Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work Charles Hood Natalie Hall Dustin Milligan Kyle Howard

A NASTY PIECE OF WORK wasn't what I was expecting. I thought there would be more going on, and that it would be more firmly in the horror genre. But never mind expectations. Taking the film for exactly what it is, Hood and Soter did craft a fun little comedic thriller here, and Soter did write the hell out of its abundant dialogue. There are some great lines, and an excellent cast was assembled to speak those lines. There isn't a false note in any of the performances, each of the actors brought their characters to life perfectly.

The biggest problem is just that it goes on a bit too long, even with such a short running time. The concept doesn't quite sustain 78 minutes. If you go into it knowing what to expect you'll probably get some fun out of it, for a while at least.

The movie will be available to watch through the Hulu streaming service as of December 6th.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.