Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings, reflect on your surroundings, and gather with the ones you love most. It’s a day celebrated with a spread of turkey, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes (don’t forget the stuffing!). However, when Blumhouse Productions, director Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine 3D), and writer Louis Ackerman sink their teeth into the meat of the holiday – all bets are off. Flesh & Blood, the latest installment of Hulu’s Into The Dark anthology series, is a tense, frightening, and moody portrayal of family tragedy that will surely make you count your blessings.

Flesh & Blood focuses on the relationship between a father and his teenage daughter, following the murder of her mother last Thanksgiving. Kimberly, played by newcomer, Diana Silvers (Glass), has become a hermit, refusing to leave the house her father Henry, played by Dermot Mulroney (Zodiac), continually renovates. Her therapist, Dr. Saunders, played by Tembi Locke (EUReKA), encourages her to break free from the prison she’s created for herself, but the disappearance of multiple local girls further wraps her in fear. As Thanksgiving approaches, and her father’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, Kimberly begins to question the safety of her home and everything she holds dear.

 

Even though Turkey Day is a few weeks away, Flesh & Blood is a good way to get your fill on all that holiday horror has to offer. This episode embodies all that we can be thankful for.

 

“Flesh & Blood[..] is a tense, frightening, and moody portrayal of family tragedy that will surely make you count your blessings.”

 

Flesh & Blood inhabits the right atmosphere, with terrific acting, and an intense plot – ranging from mysterious suspicion to emotional terror. In the grand tradition of holiday celebration, Flesh & Blood is similar to a hearty annual Thanksgiving Day feast complete with all the fixings we crave: the excitement of filling ourselves to the brim, and the joys of seeing our favorite horror factors on display in our finest china.

The characters from Mulroney, Silvers, and Locke are expertly portrayed. The cinematography is well done, the thematic elements are (for the most part) present, and the meaning is there, all in a very effective setting. However, none of these necessary additional factors can allow any film to stand strong without the main dish, the meat, the pièce de résistance, (the turkey). Flesh & Blood is a believable, heartbreaking story that revolves around a young woman and the man she knows as her father. Blumhouse has an established knack for acquiring stories with strong social commentary, unique moral conventions, and relevant issues. The simple, yet divisive story of Flesh & Blood is as traditional as a holiday roast, but also remains as original and fresh as the free ranging bird itself.

 

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No Thanksgiving turkey is really complete without the dressing (or if you’re a northerner: Stuffing). All of the themes and motifs stuffed into Flesh & Blood enhance the main plot, adding tenderness and flavor that is undeniably delicious. So many horror films and series try to cram meaning and artsy interpretation into their stories, and sometimes the extras are overkill. You don’t want the seasonings to overpower the meat. The isolation, projections of anxiety and suspicion wirh slow burning peril are all major elements in the film, combined and stuffed appropriately into the sturdy core of a valid story arch.

 
 

One piece of Flesh & Blood that I believe deserves some special attention is Kimberly’s acute agoraphobia. Many characters in horror films possess a certain quality that either assists them in victory or drowns them in danger. While Kimberly has many traits that are positive in nature, it is her major nontraditional flaw that keeps her prisoner, and ultimately sets her free. Her Agoraphobia onset by her mother’s untimely death, is an incredibly realistic problem, and one that is underutilized in the horror genre. As viewers we are able to feel shut in with Kimberly, honing in on her feelings of dependency while simultaneously trying to escape. Moments of claustrophobia and tense scenes tick away like a taunting metronome. The trap she sets herself in becomes a steady prison that Henry uses to his advantage. As a recluse, Kimberly believes the only safe haven is her home, but her own father proves that is not exactly the case. It’s not necessarily a must-have element for this story to work, but it is a delectable addition that works so well, we don’t mind making room for this extra horrific helping.

 

at the flip of a switch [Dermot Mulroney] is a frightening, unhinged maniac intent on keeping his secrets

My only qualm with Flesh & Blood was that I wanted more of a holiday feel from it. Thanksgiving seemingly flies under the radar between Halloween and Christmas in real life, and so too does it d. By the time the climax is being built up, it’s almost forgotten what holiday is being celebrated. Also, It’s Kimberly’s birthday (?) which steered the attention further away. Thanksgiving dinner is not only glossed over, but skipped out on completely as if someone hit the snooze button on it with each scene.

I’m going to need a little bit more than the mention of Black Friday and leftovers to get a feel for the holiday. I’m willing to chalk it up to purpose as Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that we fast forward through to get to the “fun” holidays, but I don’t truly believe that was the intention here. However, the absence of a heavy Thanksgiving presence does make this a watchable episode for any day of the year. Sometimes a quick nap or a break is necessary to get through the holidays.

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I won’t compare Dermot Mulroney to a delicious dessert just because of his handsome face and admirable film career. No, Mulroney is the finishing swirl of whipped cream on a perfect slice of pumpkin pie in the sense of his performance being the finishing touch on Flesh & Blood. For this role, Mulroney maintains his patented charisma as a wholesome, protective father, but at the flip of a switch he is a frightening, unhinged maniac intent on keeping his secrets, and his daughter inside of the house at all costs. His behavior is shocking and threatening – not even just for that of a loving, doting father, but for Mulroney’s typical role.

I was extremely thankful for Ackerman’s touch in this screenplay, as it is easily any daughter’s worst nightmare, without turning Henry into a typical character of perversion. Mulroney exerts true darkness and blood lust without turning his relationship with his teenage daughter into something awkward and unorthodox. He truly puts his skills to work and shows off his acting chops in a taunting, psychological display of a murderous individual merely playing the role of a father and husband while hiding a horribly secretive center. He was fantastic in every way and definitely added the last dollop of sugary goodness to Flesh & Blood’s final serving.

Flesh & Blood took a proper bite out of a taboo situation with ease and delivered on a tasty emotional meal.

This latest installment of Into The Dark‘s year-long anthology was a heavy, yet filling portion. Flesh & Blood took a proper bite out of a taboo situation with ease and delivered on a tasty emotional meal. For all of us looking to watch something other than obnoxious floats and mindless hours of football, this is a relevant, scary alternative for all of us who love simple horror. In the long scheme of Into The Dark, this feast seems to be just a pre-celebratory meal to digest before holly is hung, sleigh bells are rung, and the holiday of Christmas is celebrated with something evil. Into The Dark‘s third episode, Pooka!, comes to Hulu on December 7th. It sounds like Krampus better watch his back.

Have you started to stream Into The Dark? What did you think about Flesh & Blood? Share your thoughts with us over on TwitterReddit, and in the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!