Into the Dark is a new anthology series from Hulu billed as a horror series, and I confess, there aren’t many words in there that attract me. Anthology series are rarely of interest to me over an actual serialized story; it’s tied to holiday themes like Hallowe’en, Christmas, etc., which isn’t encouraging; and it’s a horror show. 99 times out of a 100, I would pass. But it’s a new season, and I wanted to see what a anthology horror series looked like.
In a word, awesome.
The first episode, called The Body, is themed around Hallowe’en. A hitman has killed someone and his employer would like him to deliver the body to a specific site in four hours. The hitman is good to go, sets his watch for 4 hours and counting, and then his night starts to go off the rails. While transporting the body is fun because people think it’s an awesome costume, he gets outside to find his car has all the tires flattened by hooligans, along with being TPed, etc. It’s Hallowe’en, he parked on the street, what was he expecting?
A trust fund baby comes along, thinks the guy’s costume is awesome, and convinces him to come to a party with them, have one drink, and then he’ll drive the guy wherever he wants to go. Instead, they end up in a panic room set up as an escape room, the hitman gets tired of screwing around, the supposed dead guy doesn’t seem quite dead (he moves and moans), and they’re on to him. So the hitman kills one of them, leading to a wonderful soliloquy about the nature of existence and the primal nature of killing. It has a very strong Tarantino feel to it all. The hitman is distracted, three of them escape with the body, he’s left with a woman who is turned on by the predator in him, and the chase is on — her for him, him for the three people with the body. The hitman implicates them in the murder so they can’t simply turn the body over, and the first hour is basically about them playing a bit of cat and mouse to figure out what to do.
And if the show ended around the hour mark, it would have Emmy written all over it. It is spectacular to that point. The last 30 minutes are pretty cliché, with an ending landing smack dab on obvious. But that first 60 minutes? Television gold, baby.
The hitman, Wilkes, is played expertly by Tom Bateman. He is a bit quiet, reserved, except for the random soliloquy about the nature of life, but he combines a sense of the Terminator with the mannerisms of either Clive Owen from Croupier or David Boreanaz from his dark Angel days. Bateman has lots of mini-series and other shows to his credit, but I’ve never seen most of them. Great performance, and it is matched by Rebecca Rittenhouse. With blonde hair, there were a number of scenes where I kept wondering if it was Amanda Schull I was seeing or just a faint resemblance. Like Bateman, Rittenhouse hasn’t been in much that I’ve seen, but she was dead awesome for the first 60 minutes. There’s a scene where she’s talking to herself in the bathroom, trying to figure out what she’s doing trying to date the hitman, and again, absolute gold delivery.
Surprisingly, the supporting case of four do a great job. Ray Santiago, known for Ash vs. Evil Dead, plays a rich host of the party and general sleazeball trying to figure out how to deal with something that he can’t throw money at and fix. David Hull plays the trust fund baby, Alan, and through the whole episode I kept thinking I knew him from another show. He has one of those faces. Young frat boy type. But no, I haven’t seen hardly anything he’s been in. Harvey Guillen is the second body to drop, so not in the show for long, but he’s okay when he is. Aurora Perrineau, however, does a great job as the female tag-along / sidekick looking for something to happen. Dorothy-don’t-call-me-Dot is fun to watch, and has a strong Rent vibe to her.
In short, I loved it. Ending was mediocre, but the setup was fantastic.
When I rated it, sight unseen, I predicted RENEWAL. And I’m definitely going to stand by that prediction now that I have seen it. If Hulu can keep the same quality, particularly given they aren’t using huge stars, they have a certified winner.