4 out of 5
Directed by: Paul Davis
Well dang-a-lang-a-doodle: if we can expect this level of quality once a month for the next year… that’s probably a better win ratio than my pick-and-choose viewing habits.
Into the Dark, a proposed anthology of once-a-month horror flicks exclusive to Hulu, kicks off with The Body, a fairly straightforward but very well done killy thriller concerning a murderer-for-hire and the problems he faces on Halloween night getting his latest deceased-by-hire to its agreed upon location when his transportation’s tires are slashed as part of the eve’s pranky festivities. Our killer, Wilkes (Tom Bateman) slinks among the crowds, dragging his mark, passing it off as a costume, and is reluctantly harassed into stopping by a party to show off his boss ‘outfit’ in exchange for ride.
Cue some gags with people assuming the fakeness of his corpse-in-tow, but then – to the filmmakers’ credits in not dragging that out – cue the unfortunates who discover the truth and let some cat and mouse begin.
Being told that this was expanded from a short (by the same team) isn’t surprising, but not for the normal reasons where you can see bloat to make the runtime; rather, it’s because it’s a concept that could easily be compressed, but the film fully fills up its 80 minutes with fun performances (read: not annoying performances, which is how most horror ensemble joints come across) and well-paced close calls. Bateman’s performance on Wilkes is delightfully evil, but not so brutal that we don’t enjoy spending time with him. …Which isn’t to say that the flick doesn’t do its diligence in the gore department, but its kept in balance with actual plotting and dialogue.
Yes, there are your regular small pile of “…but why…?” type questions that keep it shy of being really smart, but the overall flick is a generally superior experience, and once that supposes its audience is smart and so doesn’t hold its hand. Plus: John Landis, Alex Winter, and what I have to assume is a Phantasm nod. Excellent.