A hitman walks into a bar…
There’s no shortage of horrific television to feast your eyes on in the month of October, between Netflix’s superb adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, the twisted new take on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and FX’s tried-and-true American Horror Story. Now, Hulu, in partnership with Blumhouse Television, is bringing its own flavor of fright to the small screen with a 12-episode anthology series, titled Into the Dark. The horror series will debut one new episode per month for an entire year, with each episode tied to a specific holiday. So, is Hulu’s new scarefest worth your screams? Yes and no.
Into the Dark’s first outing, “The Body,” doesn’t reinvent the horror wheel, but it is a bloody good time throughout its roughly 90-minute run. The story centers on a cynical hitman named Wilkes (Da Vinci’s Demons star Tom Bateman), who, after killing his latest target, is trapped in downtown Los Angeles on Halloween night, dragging his fresh victim through the city streets. It’s an entertaining premise that allows for some humorous exchanges early on, since most of the Halloween revelers assume the dead body is part of Wilkes’ killer costume.
Bateman is deliciously villainous in the role, complete with a trim black suit, deadly stare, and enough British charm to give James Bond a run for his money. Amid all of the Americans milling about, Wilkes truly feels like an alien, which adds to his already threatening aura. It’s not until Wilkes meets his match, an engaging partygoer named Maggie (The Mindy Project’s Rebecca Rittenhouse), that everything begins to change.
While “The Body” probably won’t blow anyone’s socks off in terms of its originality, there are some standout moments between Wilkes and Maggie that make it consistently watchable. Bateman and Rittenhouse’s chemistry is palpable from the start, and as Maggie learns more about Wilkes’ true nature as a cold-blooded killer, it’s cute and a bit awkward to watch them try to figure each other out. Wilkes expects everyone to cower in fear, but Maggie is drawn to him in spite of his menacing demeanor, which confuses the apathetic killer.
Sure, Maggie and Wilkes don’t have the kind of first date you’d see in a romantic comedy, but even with the high body count they leave behind, it’s difficult not to root for them to get away with it all, especially when the rest of the cast is so forgettable. Yes, there is a supporting cast, who sadly seem to serve no other purpose than to annoy the audience.
Without getting into heavy spoilers, let’s just say the plot features a group of individuals (Dorothy, Jack, and Nick) who rubbed Wilkes the wrong way. Most of the storyline has them frantically running from one location to another, shouting phrases like “we’re all going to die,” and “OMG, what the f*** are we going to do?” over and over again. Their constant state of panic and mediocre jokes fall flat and almost derail the entire blood-soaked journey. If it weren’t for Maggie and Wilkes’ endearing relationship, “The Body” could have been dead on arrival. Thankfully, if the episode isn’t your cup of tea, Into the Dark will deliver a brand new story – with fresh meat characters – next month.