2 out of 5
Directed by: Emma Tammi
Blood Moon isn’t an unenjoyable chapter in the Into the Dark series, and “speaks” well for director Emma Tammi, whose previous ‘Delivered‘ entry displayed the same sense of controlled pacing and tone as this episode, with Blood Moon once again milking quality performances out of its leads, and getting the most from a small budget. However, Delivered worked its familiar territory to its benefit, making the best version of what it was; Blood Moon has some potentially more unique angles, but it backs into them from a puzzling angle, making the bulk of the flick – though very watchable – feel without purpose, and subject to analysis of plot- / logic-holes You can sense Tammi (and / or scripters Adam Mason and Simon Boyes) feeling out some of these angles, but they’re just left there, the flick instead hanging on story reveals that are pretty much foretold from the start.
Esme (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and son Luna (Yonas Kibreab) are new to town. Esme’s house hunting and seems awful interested in the basement; a flashback to the bloody after-effects of some type of attack, and then Esme’s calming of something that’s been kept in a cage make it clear that that’s what the basement is being scouted for. She’s hesitant to interact with her small-town neighbors – fending off noxious flirtations (one of the threads Blood Moon introduces and then drops) – and is incredibly protective of her son, refusing for him to socialize with others, or even get out of the house much. She gets a job, makes some quick enemies with her brusque attitude, and then demands that she get a particular day of the month off, which is circled on a calendar at home.
Tammi does as she did with Delivered, and tries not to overplay things, but Blood Moon’s structure seems to be treating what’s going on – the over-protectiveness; the basement cage – as a mystery, when it cannot possibly be unclear to anyone who has a passing familiarity with the most basic of movie monsters. This would still be fine if some of the other themes that wander in are dealt with, but they aren’t: the focus is on Esme’s preparations, and then – as this is something cyclic, happening once a month – it’s on the countdown to when things will inevitably go wrong. This is telegraphed way ahead of time, which, again, would work if we had something else to deal with, but we just don’t.
Echikunwoke and Kibreab are, thankfully, both really strong in their roles – I’m so happy to see Megalyn get a shot at a character who’s not written as an idiot, as she was in Almost Family – and though I’ve picked on the bits and pieces the episode leaves on the table, it’s also true that Tammi doesn’t linger on them, so things do move along. And the ending is good – tension is maintained without resorting to cheap effects, and there’s a quality emotional throughline – though it does serve as a reminder of how much the movie could’ve been improved by inserting some of that emotion into what preceded, making it a focus instead of an afterthought.