Written by: Aurora Caskey
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Holidays can be terrifying. Typically, movies and TV shows stick to the tried and true celebrations for Halloween and Christmas. Into the Dark is a series presented by Hulu and Blumhouse Productions that attempts to broaden the selection of festivities used as a backdrop for their scares. The inaugural season, which started in October of 2018, consists of 12 episodes released monthly. Each episode is themed around a holiday that takes place for that month. The episodes vary widely in quality, tone, and theme but work well together to showcase up and coming writers, directors, and actors.
The May and June episodes are themed around Mother’s and Father’s Day, respectively. Both films do a great job of touching on real-life aspects of being a parent. The mother and father in each episode struggle in different ways with how far they will go to protect their children.
THE MOTHER’S DAY EPISODE
In the May installment, ‘All that We Destroy’ tells the story of Dr. Victoria Harris, a prominent geneticist, who is dealing with her teenaged son Spencer and his violent tendencies. She clones Ashley, a girl Spencer killed, over and over again, in an attempt to control his urges. At first we’re not sure how or why he murdered the original girl, but eventually we find out more about their relationship. This is my favorite Into the Dark episode so far. What elevates it beyond the others is the compelling characterization and phenomenal acting. This episode does a good job of treating every character with empathy, including the mother, who might come across terribly under different circumstances.
THE FATHER’S DAY EPISODE
The Father’s Day episode of Into the Dark, ‘They Come Knocking’, isn’t as layered As ‘All That We Destroy’, but it’s still an enjoyable (and scarier) watch. Keeping with the Father’s Day theme, we meet Nathan and his two daughters Clair and Maggie. They are in the midst of a road trip to a desolate spot in the desert where Nathan has fond memories of his late wife, Val. The purpose of the trip is to spread Val’s ashes in a place that was special to her, however things quickly go wrong. The two daughters’ bicker and it’s clear that they are still reeling from losing their mother. Clair blames her father for taking Val off life support and Nathan is struggling to find a way to reconnect with his children.
On their first night staying in the RV trailer, Clair is awoken by strange knocking and sees a face on the roof window. The next day, they discover that their car has been tampered with, mostly likely by the mysterious entities that asked in child-like voices to be let in the night before. Stuck with no cell service and no way out, Nathan leaves the girls to walk for help, using the reasoning that Maggie, the younger one, can’t make the journey. Of course, things go from bad to worse when Maggie is lured out of the trailer. It’s unclear if the entities stalking the family are ghosts, demons, or simply meant to represent past trauma that needs to be dealt with. In some ways, the film tries to do too much by combining multiple horror tropes. Nevertheless, ‘They Come Knocking’ has resonance because of its complex themes and well-acted family dynamic that bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. Overall, this horror movie with heart is an enjoyable watch for fathers and daughters who love a good scare.
The format of incorporating holidays into the various episodes allows for an element of playfulness and creativity that’s hard to find with theatrical releases. It’s a good way to get friends or significant others who aren’t horror fans to dip their toes in the genre. Most of the episodes focus on exploring ideas and raising questions about society rather than jump scares and violence. Into the Dark is a great watch for horror fans who want to see something different.