Into the Dark 1: The Body

Rating:

Wanna See a Dead Body?

Main Cast: Tom Bateman, Rebecca Rittenhouse

Director: Paul Davis

Okay, I admit it, I was wrong.  The trailer for this movie, the first in a series of Hulu originals called Into the Dark, consisting of 12 feature-length “episodes”, left me unaffected, while the first few minutes of the movie itself left me in dread, and not because the thing was so chilling.  The opening of the movie put me in mind of all those crappy Mick Garris made-for-TV horror movies with its panning shot of a fancy apartment and terrible terrible music from The Newton Brothers (who have quite a history composing for horror, specifically of the Mike Flanagan variety with credits on GERALD’S GAME, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, and DOCTOR SLEEP).  But man, this opening scared the hell out of me because it was just the first 3 minutes out of 80-something, and if THIS was the quality of filmmaking I was about to get, God help me.

And then it got better.  By the midway point, I could see all the signposts and knew right where we were going, but it was such fun getting there, I didn’t mind. And by the end, the “twist” is obvious to anyone who’s ever watched a horror movie in their life, but, still, I really enjoyed this experience.

The plot, such as it is, ridiculous and wafer-thin, centers on Wilkes, a professional assassin who’s been hired to kill a famous so-and-so (we never learn who), and now must dispose of the body.  Luckily, it’s Halloween night, so a man dragging a body wrapped in plastic down the street to his car isn’t going to sound any alarms.  Good thing, too, because when he gets to his car he sees the tires have been slashed.  Luckily for Wilkes, he’s met by three party-goers who think his costume is Patrick Bateman from AMERICAN PSYCHO.  They offer him a ride but insist he come have a drink with them at the party they’re headed to.

Spotting a couple of cops talking to someone else whose tires have been slashed, he takes the ride and agrees he’s in costume and the body is a prop.

Once they get to the party, he has his drink, but the others are in no hurry, so Wilkes bides his time with another drink, when he meets Maggie, computer tech for Jack, the eccentric horror fan whose party they’re all attending.  Jack says Maggie can use his car to give Wilkes a ride, but first he wants everyone to check out the escape room he’s devised for Halloween.  While inside the room, Jack is fascinated by Wilkes’s “prop” and stomps on it to see how real it feels.  That’s when everyone realizes it IS a body, and if it wasn’t dead before, Jack has just killed it.

Wilkes reveals his hand by killing one of the other party-goers and insisting he wants the keys to Jack’s car now.  But Jack has rigged the room with distractions aplenty and he and the rest manage to grab the body and escape the room, leaving Wilkes and Maggie inside.  Maggie isn’t afraid, though; in fact she’s very much on Wilkes’s side and she joins him in tracking down Jack and the others so Wilkes can get his body back and finish the job.

Like I said, the plot is super thin, the detours are clear as day to spot, and overall I can’t believe this thing worked at all.  But it did, and I honestly enjoyed watching this movie.

Written by Paul Davis and Paul Fischer, with Davis directing, THE BODY has lots of familiar horror faces in the main roles like Rebecca Rittenhouse (UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB), Aurora Perrineau (BLUMHOUSE’S TRUTH OR DARE), Ray Santiago (ASH VS. EVIL DEAD), and Harvey Guillen (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS the series–okay, not horror, but still within the genre circles), not to mention a cameo from genre legend John Landis.  So there’s clearly some horror street cred here.  But Davis and Fischer didn’t rely on that alone.  They couldn’t have.  It doesn’t matter how many familiar faces they shove into their movie if it sucks.  Luckily THE BODY was, for me, a lot of fun.

There’s plenty of blood if that’s your thing, excellent use of physical effects, and the acting was better than the script deserved.

Granted, it wasn’t without its faults.  Like I said, the plot is barely there, it’s predictable as all get out, and there’s just something a little too shiny about it. I never felt a part of this world because this world is obviously a movie world where everyone’s too pretty and things just seems to fall into place.  But for a movie like this, it works, because I didn’t watch THE BODY looking for escape, I had 90 minutes to kill before work and this did the trick.

Something else it did was put me at ease for more of these Into the Dark movies.  We’re not off to a GREAT start, but definitely a good one and if the rest of the “episodes” can maintain even this level of quality, we’re good.

More Into the Dark:

Flesh and Blood

Pooka!

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