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With 'Into the Dark,' Hulu Brings the Horror
October 5, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

If you need a little more blood and gore in your TV life, but don’t have time to watch all of American Horror Story (AHS), Hulu has an alternative: Into the Dark, a horror anthology whose first episode becomes available Friday on the streaming service.

Each episode will be a self-contained story, which makes it feel like a series of 90-minute horror movies.

While the episodes don’t have the production budget or the name cast of AHS, Into the Dark has an appealing style of its own. Call it a cross between your basic contemporary horror film, offering a healthy serving of graphic gore, and classic film noir, where dark menace could be lurking in every ominous line of dialogue and behind every shadow.

Also, and don’t take this as a spoiler, the concept of a “happy ending” may at times be relative.

Friday’s opening episode, "The Body," further adds a gleefully warped touch of James Bond, embodied in a hitman named Wilkes (Tom Bateman, right). He’s tall, dark and handsome, with a suave British manner, and soon after we meet him, he explains in detail and then ingests a heaping mouthful of Casu Marzu cheese, an Italian delicacy infused with live maggots.

It may not make you rush to the nearest cheese shop to see if there’s any in stock though it does have a certain exotic flair.

Wilkes’s work, by contrast, seems rather routine. He has been hired to kill someone, and he is standing over an inert, bleeding body. All he has to do, per instructions from his employer, is deliver the body to a designated location within the next four hours.

Seems simple enough, except that when he drags the body to his car, he finds it undrivable because some punk has slashed his tires. Honestly, this crime thing is getting out of hand.

By chance, along comes a group of young adult idiots heading for a Halloween party. Did we mention that each episode of Into the Dark is themed to one of that month’s holidays? October gets Halloween, November gets Thanksgiving, and you get the idea.

The idiots assume Wilkes is also headed for a Halloween party, dressed as a hitman with a fake body. They think this is, like, the coolest thing ever, and promise that if he comes to their party, they will in return give him a ride to wherever he needs to go.

Lacking other options, he says yes, which plunges Into the Dark into 15 minutes of bizarre slapstick comedy as people at the party buy into the original misunderstanding and fall all over themselves to congratulate Wilkes on his inspired party character.

The clueless Jack (Ray Santiago), who hosts the party, leads that parade. Less wide-eyed and more deeply intrigued is Maggie (Rebecca Rittenhouse, left), who is dressed as Marie Antoinette and has her own darkly fatalistic view of the world.

As we wonder if there’s an attraction between Wilkes and Maggie, their scenes are fresh and fascinating.

Following standard horror movie practice, all characters are eventually dropped into the show’s figurative blender. Equally unsurprising, some do not emerge intact.

Into the Dark may be more original in its style and premise than its execution. It might have more impact if it had a sympathetic character or two. But horror it promises and horror it delivers.

 
 
 
 
 
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