I was immmediately intrigued by the concept of Hulu and Blumhouse Television’s anthology horror series Into the Dark, which tells different stories inspired by different holidays in the year. Personally, I’m a big fan of anthologies because it gives filmmakers the freedom to work autonomously without having to worry about how their output will affect the outouts of other installments in the series. Suffice to say, I had high hopes about watching the first season.
I’m only three episodes into the series, seeing the Halloween inspired The Body, as well as two of the higest rated episodes — New Year, New You and Culture Shock (Fourth of July). I have got to say I have mixed feelings about this series. While the last two episodes were widely celebrated by critics, I still felt they lacked a key element that made it amazing.
The Body, which was the pilot episode topbilled by Tom Bateman, actually laid out its story quite well. Audiences know that it won’t end well for someone in the episode, and the only question was: Who won’t make it to the end? True, Tom Bateman laid on the stoic, emotionless hitman vibe too thick but at the end of episode, everything came full circle so it was pretty solid.
New Year, New You was a complete and utter disaster. It had a great message about people’s fixation about celebrity influencers. However, the main characters were all irritating. It gets hard to empathize with any of them because of their sheer stupidity and vindictiveness. For four adults who supposedly matured after their years in high school, everyone — even the supposed heroine of the piece was petty and vapid. While the main character presented her motives as altruistic, audiences can sense that she was just jealous of her more successful teenage bestie. The fact that the bestie actually turned out to be a b*tch was not a surprise. The only surprise was the fact that two out of the four friends were absolute gullible idiots.
Another supposedly strong episode of the series was Culture Shock, which revolved around a group of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally. However, just as they are about to reach the land of milk and honey, they wake up in an ideal American town with no recollection of their past lives, with the exception of the pregnant heroine. As she pokes around and discovers where they actually were, she tries to liberate everyone from their predicament.
I must say that this episode was loaded with social commentary about Trump’s wall, the idea of America as a land of opportunity, as well as the plight of illegal immigrants as they try to risk their lives crossing the border. It also implies how American authorities view these illegal aliens and what little regard they have for their lives. It speaks of the racial divide between the haves and have nots and it should have been a great episode, except for the fact that it took too long to deliver its message.
Like the experience of the immigrants, audiences will have a feeling of being trapped in a lengthy loop that goes nowhere and the fact that the episode needs to fill an hour and half worth of material made the momentum dip multiple times. The ending spoke volumes but even before, my interest was already lost. Its basically a meh, for me.
I have a long way to go to finish all of the episodes in Into The Dark Season 1 and I have no doubt that there will be gems among them. However, I feel that the series could do better by reducing the time for each episode to an hour given the materials they are filming. Overall, in terms of cinematic quality, its pretty good. The scripts are also nice, its just that the execution needs to be polished a bit more to focus only on what is important.