What the Thanksgiving themed episode of Into the Dark lacks in turkey, it makes up for with tension and terror.
Four weeks after the premiere of Hulu’s new horror anthology series Into the Dark, we’re finally treated to the second instalment, “Flesh & Blood.” Each episode is released a month apart, and is themed on a holiday of that month. The first episode premiered in October, with a story aptly set during Halloween. For the month of November, the story is centered around Thanksgiving.
While the first episode, “The Body”, left much to be desired, “Flesh & Blood” shows that maybe Into the Dark is worth sticking around a whole year for. “Flesh & Blood” is a more classic horror story, lacking the humor and buckets of gore as the premiere, but it makes up for it with edge-of-your-seat tension.
After the unsolved murder of her mother one Thanksgiving, Kimberly begins to suffer from agoraphobia. Having not left her house for a year, the anniversary of her mother’s death, and the fear that her killer is still out there, looms over Kimberly. She begins to fear for her own life, but is the threat all in Kimberly’s mind, or has the refuge of home turned into imprisonment?
With a runtime of an hour and a half, “Flesh & Blood” takes its time setting up its characters and conflict, but once it gets going it doesn’t stop. What starts as a teen angst drama quickly turns into a fight for you life thriller. Imagine if Home Alone weren’t a family-friendly comedy, but a frightening fight for survival. For a year Kimberly’s home was a place of comfort, and it’s suddenly become the one place she doesn’t want to be, yet can’t escape from.
A very insular episode, confined to one house, the episode makes great use of the singular space making the atmosphere feel both vast and isolated, creating and releasing tension as needed. The limited characters (Diana Silvers as Kimberly, and Dermot Mulroney as her father) are well casted, and comfortably take command, guiding the story along.
Though a well told horror story, the holiday theme that is supposed to set each episode apart is lacking in this episode. Considering the premise of Into the Dark is that each episode is themed on a different holiday, you’d think the holiday would have more presence in the story.
Thanksgiving had little to nothing to do with this premise, other than as a backdrop to place the story on a specific date. “Flesh & Blood” could have taken place on any day of the year, Thanksgiving is an arbitrary choice. Hopefully future episodes are able to incorporate the holidays more deliberately, otherwise it simply feels like a clever marketing device that has no bearing on the actual show.
“Flesh & Blood” is a more conventional thriller, but its deft execution doesn’t let it feel stale. As a stronger episode than its predecessor, Into the Dark proves that this new series is probably worth sticking around for. Like Black Mirror, some episodes are better than others, and some will be more appealing to others. You just have to be willing to take a gamble.