Into the Dark, on Hulu
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This is a horror anthology series that began in October 2018, and is intended to release one movie-length episode per month, for twelve months. Each one is set on a holiday (or other occasion) set within the month it's released. As you could probably guess, the first one is set on Halloween. At the time the series started, I didn't have access to Hulu, so the first episode I became aware of was the third one, when I began subscribing in December. In fact, even then I wasn't aware that it was part of an anthology series. Anyway, I didn't get around to watching that one at the time. And I didn't start watching the series until the end of June 2019.

Season One

tek's rating:

The Body (Halloween)
Bloody Disgusting; Halloween Specials Wiki; Hulu; iHorror; IMDb; Wikipedia

This is based on a 2013 short film, which I haven't seen.

When the episode begins, a hitman named Wilkes has already killed his latest target. (We have no idea who it is, but it's someone famous, which becomes a running gag.) Wilkes is supposed to deliver the body somewhere within four hours, but when he gets out to his car, he finds the tires have been slashed by Halloween pranksters. Soon after that, he's stopped by a few people who think his "costume" is pretty great. (He looks like a hitman, and he's dragging a body that's basically been mummified in plastic wrap, which people assume is a prop.) One of these people is a guy named Alan, who wants him to accompany him and his friends to a Halloween party they're going to. Alan's friends include a woman named Dorothy and a guy named Nick. Wilkes just finds this whole interaction annoying, but since there are some cops nearby, he agrees to go with them. At the party, Wilkes meets a woman named Maggie, who soon takes an interest in him. He also meets the party's host, Jack, who insists Wilkes, Maggie, Alan, Dorothy, and Nick join him in a private room. And... eventually they all come to realize that Wilkes is a real hitman and his "prop" is a real dead body. Jack and some of his guests manage to get away, along with the dead body, which they're not sure what to do with. Wilkes and Maggie remain trapped in the room for a little while, and it's obvious that Maggie wants to help Wilkes, because she has a dark side of her own. Once they escape, they pursue the others. That's all I want to reveal of the plot, but it's definitely an amusing movie, in a very dark way. And Wilkes is rather cool, in his own demented way. (He has a philosophy about the nature of human beings that I don't want to spoil, but I found it really interesting. I'm not sure whether he actually believes it or he was just bullshitting, but it's a concept I could kind of get behind... except for the whole justifying murder part.) But I gotta say... Maggie is even cooler.

tek's rating: ¼

Flesh & Blood (Thanksgiving)
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I feel like I almost need to spoil this episode, to explain why I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have hoped. But I won't. I'll just say that I was hoping for a particular plot twist to happen in the end, and it didn't. Anyway, the story is about a 17-year-old girl named Kimberly Tooms, who has severe agoraphobia. Sometime in the past year, her mother, Rose (Meredith Salenger) was murdered. (I'm not sure if Kim's agoraphobia developed because of that, or if it was a pre-existing condition.) She receives therapy sessions in her home from Dr. Helen Saunders (Tembi Locke, whom I know from Eureka). She also spends a lot of time online. But other than Dr. Saunders, the only person she ever sees in person is her father, Henry (Dermot Mulroney). And after seeing a news report on TV, Kim comes to suspect he is responsible for the disappearance of a number girls in the area, and also that he had killed Rose. And I can't really say any more about the plot without getting spoilery, but at least I thought everyone did a good job with their roles (though I'm disappointed by how small Salenger's role was). As far as scariness goes... I can certainly understand Kim's fear, and how much it was complicated by her inability to leave her house. But as psychological thrillers go, it just didn't do that much for me.

I do need to mention that this episode has only the most tenuous connection to Thanksgiving. There was a brief scene at the start of the episode of the last Thanksgiving the family spent together before Rose was killed, and the story takes place over several days throughout November, so there is some talk of plans for this year's Thanksgiving. (By this year, I mean 2018, which is when the episode was released, though I didn't see it until 2019, on the night before Thanksgiving.) But the holiday doesn't actually have any real part in the story, which could just as easily have been set at any other time of year.

tek's rating:

Pooka! (Christmas)
Bloody Disgusting; Christmas Specials Wiki; Hulu; IMDb; Wikipedia

It begins with... well, I won't say what exactly. But it begins the way it ends. Anyway, a man named Wilson Clowes wakes up, and it seems as if what we saw before that was his dream, and it was confusing, and he himself seems confused. But he goes on with life, as one does after waking from a confusing dream. We soon learn that he's an actor, auditioning, so he thinks, for "A Christmas Carol." But it soon turns out he's actually been selected to wear a costume and play "Pooka," a life-size version of what is destined to be the must-have toy of the upcoming Christmas season. (So he's kind of like a mall Santa.) He also befriends his neighbor, an older woman named Red, who is very supportive of him. And he meets a woman named Melanie, a single mom with a son named Ty. Actually, he seems mildly stalkery about meeting her, but they soon start a relationship, and everything seems good. Except... strange things seem to happen in Wilson's life, and it all seems to be connected to the Pooka costume. It's easy to form a rough idea of what's going on, though I felt like it was a bit of a slow burn, and slightly underwhelming. Maybe I was just unfairly impatient for what was obviously going to happen, to happen. Luckily, everything I thought I could predict was wrong. The film gets progressively more surreal, and as you eventually begin to get a sense of what the film is really about, you realize that instead of doing a somewhat bland job of what you thought was going on, it was actually doing a brilliant job of something else entirely. It becomes disturbing on a number of levels, even as the actual details of the plot (and the time frame of the story) become increasingly blurred. In the end, there are still things I don't fully understand, but that doesn't even matter. Because what I do understand about it all is horrifying enough.

tek's rating:

New Year, New You (New Year)
Bloody Disgusting; Hulu; iHorror; IMDb; Wikipedia

A woman named Alexis invites three friends to spend New Year's Eve in her parents' house, which they're going to sell soon. (The parents aren't there for this gathering.) Two of those friends, Kayla and Chloe, have remained close with Alexis over the years, but it's been quite awhile since any of them have seen the fourth member of the group, Danielle, who is now a famous influencer on the internet, and is soon going to get her own TV show. Over the course of the evening, it becomes apparent that Alexis blames Danielle for a tragic event when they were all in high school. And once the clock strikes midnight, the evening takes a very dramatic turn. I don't really want to say any more about the plot, but it gets pretty twisted, and it's hard to say who is more twisted, Alexis or Danielle. Anyway, it was an okay story, I guess, but not something I found super memorable, or anything.

However, I did know a few of the actresses from other things, even if I didn't realize it while watching. Alexis was played by Suki Waterhouse, a name that was familiar to me, but I wasn't sure whether I'd seen her in anything before. (I had: Pride + Prejudice + Zombies.) Danielle was played by Carly Chaikin, who looked vaguely familiar to me, but it was only when I checked IMDb that I found I knew her from Suburgatory. Kayla was played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste.

tek's rating: ¼

Down (Valentine's Day)
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On Valentine's night, the last two people in an office building, Jennifer and Guy, get stuck in an elevator together. They can't contact anyone to tell them they're stuck, and it's the start of a three day weekend, which means no one will be back in the building for a few days. It's a pretty dreadful predicament, but the two of them get to know each other, and seem to make good company, becoming increasingly comfortable with each other. Eventually, they have sex. Not long after that... the horror starts. I don't want to spoil the nature of the horror, but it's deeply disturbing, in an all too realistic way. I didn't find the film particularly good or bad, I guess, just sort of okay. I did like the ending, though.

Guy was played by Matt Lauria, whom I know from Parenthood, but I failed to recognize him. Jennifer was played by Natalie Martinez, whom I'd seen in Under the Dome and "The Crossing," but considering how little I saw of either show, I'm not surprised that I didn't remember her.

tek's rating:

Treehouse (International Women's Day)
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Note: I take my cues for what (holi)day each episode is about from Wikipedia. And the first time I checked, it said this episode was for International Women's Day. By the time I actually watched the episode (a bit more than a year late), it said "Ides of March." I suppose I can see a bit of both, in the plot, but mostly the former. So that's what I'm going with. Oh, and I should also mention the episode was directed and co-written by James Roday (whom I mainly know as an actor, from Psych). And one of his costars from that show, Maggie Lawson, has a brief, non-speaking role at the start of the movie, though I totally failed to recognize her.

So, there's this celebrity chef named Peter Rake. His ex-wife (played by Sutton Foster, though we only see her in a brief scene at the end of the movie) is getting remarried, and their young daughter, Riley, would like Peter to go with her to the wedding. But he says it would be too awkward, and besides, he has a lot of work to do. However, while Riley is away for the weekend, Peter goes to his family's old estate, which he hasn't been to for years. He visits with his sister, Gwen, who has recently become a district attorney. So a case calls her away for most of the weekend, and Peter's only company is the house's caretaker, Agnes. Meanwhile, he meets a woman named Kara, who is on a bachelorette camping party with her friends Marie (the bride-to-be), Elena (Stephanie Beatriz, from Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Morgan, and Lilith. Peter invites them to the house, where he cooks dinner for them. Things seem to go reasonably well, until he passes out, his wine having been drugged. He awakens as a captive of the women, who intend to enact revenge for... things I don't want to spoil. In fact there are a number of plot twists I don't want to spoil, but all in all, I thought it was a decent episode.

tek's rating: meh and a half

I'm Just F*cking with You (April Fools' Day)
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An internet troll named Larry Adams (aka Programming Flaw) is reluctantly going to his cousin's wedding. We eventually learn that the reason he's reluctant is that his cousin is marrying his ex-girlfriend, Cindy. So he posts all kinds of nasty things about her. Anyway, he spends the night before the wedding at the Pink Motel & Lounge, where he meets a guy named Chester, who constantly plays mean-spirited jokes on him. And then, when Larry hears about a car accident on the news, and his sister Rachel doesn't answer his calls or texts, he worries that she may have been in the accident. But eventually he becomes more worried that Rachel made it to the Motel, and Chester did something to her. And I don't want to say any more about the plot, except that things just get crazier and crazier. I never managed to care too much about any of the characters. I hated Chester, and kind of felt bad for Larry and Rachel, but not too bad, because Larry at least was an asshole, himself. But he probably didn't deserve the level of punishment he received. Rachel (and others) certainly didn't.

tek's rating:

All That We Destroy (Mother's Day)
Divide/Conquer; Hulu; iHorror; IMDb

A geneticist named Dr. Victoria Harris (Samantha Mathis) creates a clone of a woman named Ashley (Aurora Perrineau), for her son, Spencer, who kills the clone. And the process is repeated several times. There are intermittent flashbacks to Spencer meeting the original Ashley, and... I'm not sure how predictable what happens between them is. I kind of imagined she must have been his girlfriend and died somehow, but halfway through the movie we learn that's not what happened. But throughout the movie, we learn that Spencer has had these urges to kill ever since he was a kid. Meanwhile, he meets a new neighbor named Marissa, with whom he becomes friends, though his mother wants him not to have anything to do with her, for obvious reasons. And... I dunno, things just get more complicated. It's all sort of interesting, I guess, but I wasn't that into it. But I will say there should be limits to a mother's love...

tek's rating: ½

They Come Knocking (Father's Day)
Hulu; IMDb

A father named Nathan takes his daughters, Clair and Maggie, on a road trip some time after the death of his wife and their mother, Val (Robyn Lively). On the night after they park their camper in the middle of nowhere, they begin to be terrorized by creepy masked and robed child-like things, I guess, as well as a spirit that takes the form of Val (sometimes looking like she did when she was healthy, sometimes like she did in the late stage of her cancer, and I'd say sommetimes like she's dead). I don't know what else to say except that the scare factor was reasonably good.

tek's rating: ½

Culture Shock (Independence Day)
Dread Central; Hulu; IMDb; PopHorror

A pregnant woman named Marisol, who was raped on her last attempt to illegally cross the border from Mexico to America, tries once again, along with some other people. Making it to the border takes up about the first third of the film (which is mainly in Spanish with English subtitles), and after that, things get weird. (Most of the rest of the film is in English.) Marisol wakes up in a town where everyone is happy and friendly, and she's taken care of by a woman named Betty (Barbara Crampton). But there's something not right about the town or anyone in it. One day, Marisol secretly follows the town's mayor, Thomas (Shawn Ashmore), to the end of a street where there's a portal. When she crosses through it... well, I don't want to spoil what happens next. But it's pretty fucked up. All I can say is the film is a provocative sci-fi indictment of both how America treats immigrants and how it treats prisoners. Very disturbing, but a worthwhile watch.

tek's rating: ½

School Spirit (First Day of School)
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Senior class president Erica Yang gets detention, where she meets a group of regular detainees. There's a legend about a "school spirit", the ghost of a dead teacher, that kills bad kids. And one by one, the kids in detention get picked off when they're alone. There's not much else to say, really, without spoiling anything. But I thought it was an okay story.

tek's rating:

Pure (Daughter's Day)
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I have such mixed feelings about this film, because I had to sit through So. Much. Sickening. Infuriating. Patriarchal. Bullshit. But I like how it ends. Anyway... it focuses on four girls (out of a larger group) who are attending a "purity retreat" with their fathers. The main one is Shay, who only recently met her father, who had an affair with her mother while he was married to another woman, with whom he had a daughter named Jo, who is also on the retreat, and who doesn't take any of it seriously. (Naturally, their father puts all the blame for the affair, and hence Shay's existence, on her mother, taking none of the responsibility himself.) Another girl at the retreat is Lacey, the daughter of the pastor in charge of the retreat. She buys into the bullshit completely, and ultimately blames herself, is disgusted and horrified with herself, for simply kissing a boy. The fourth member of the group is Kellyann, who has her own issues with her domineering father, but I never felt like I got to know her very well. Anyway, one night early on the girls perform a ceremony to summon Lilith, the actual first woman on Earth (before Eve), who had been sent to hell just for considering herself Adam's equal (though there's some bullshit excuse about her having sex with an angel or whatever, for which the angel naturally takes no blame). Shay starts having visions of Lilith, which is kind of scary, but I'd say the pastor and the fathers are all way fucking scarier, because people like that exist in real life. And all I wanted was for Lilith to show up in the end and kill all the men. And that's all I have to say.

Season Two

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