For decades anthology horror has called television home. From classics like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, to more modern fare such as Tales from the Crypt and The X-Files, the airwaves have never had a shortage of concise thrillers tailor-made for broadcast television. With customers abandoning conventional cable and satellite services daily, it comes as no surprise that streaming services are entering the game. What does this mean for the discerning horror audience? A lack of conventional censorship is at the forefront of this new frontier in entertainment. Where previous attempts were forced to scale back violence and content in the name of appeasing sponsors, today we as an audience have an alternative means of consumption. Which brings us to Into the Dark.
Into the Dark from Hulu and Blum House Television promises to be a monthly anthology with each entry centered around a holiday occurring within the month of it’s release. This format made October the perfect month to open with “The Body.” From Director Paul Davis and based on his short film of the same name, “The Body” is a tale of an erudite hit man, Wilkes, who is perhaps a bit too confident in his vocation. This cold and calculating assassin, hauntingly portrayed by Tom Bateman, decides that, seeing as it is Halloween, he will have no trouble dragging his latest assignment through the streets of L.A. wrapped up in plastic like yesterday’s leftovers. Not surprisingly this attempt to dispose of the body is derailed when he accepts an invitation to a Halloween party from a trio of 20 somethings. This plot point while unrealistic, does compel the viewer to attend that party for the inevitable reveal.
The look of “The Body” is something modern audiences have become accustomed to, so I won’t fault it for the crisp, generic aesthetics. This is not a story that relies on stylized lighting and camera angles akin to Italian horror, but rather focuses on the reactions of it’s characters to build suspense. Creating a realistic landscape for a series of fantastical events to unfold in. As partiers Dorothy(Aurora Perrineau), Alan(David Hull), and Jack(Ray Santiago) become unwilling participants in a body disposal their colleague Maggie(Rebecca Rittenhouse) is assisting the devilishly handsome Hitman for reasons that become more apparent as the race against time progresses. These characters responses drive the story forward forcing the audience to answer that age old question….. What would you do?
What “The Body” lacked in visual style it made up for in gore and effects. There were no complaints from this reviewer when it came to the quality and intensity of the kills. These sadistic murders complimented the ruthless nature of Bateman’s Wilkes, creating a real threat to characters that were flawed but decidedly likable. The freedom that streaming services allow is very apparent, a sense of “don’t hold back” bled from each demise. As a fan who grew up with the likes of Tom Savini and Rick Baker, these efforts do not go unnoticed. When it comes to the crime of abuse of a corpse, this episode pulled no punches, which was much appreciated. Not to mention a mortuary kill that has to be seen to be believed.
The Body proved to be a solid debut episode for Into the Dark. What comes with the anthology format is a chance for otherwise unknown writers, directors, and actors to showcase their talents. This can introduce audiences to artists that they would have never discovered without an ongoing series providing said opportunities. Would we know Richard Matheson if it wasn’t for The Twilight Zone, or Robert Zemeckis without Tales from the Crypt. Okay perhaps that second example wasn’t great…. But you get my point. This makes Into the Dark an essential watch for genre fans desperate for fresh original content.