Blumhouse Productions has taken the horror genre by storm with an impressive selection of hit releases praised by fans, successfully redefining the genre. Now, Blumhouse revolutionizes streaming by providing us with the year-long horror film anthology Into The Dark. Available exclusively on Hulu, new feature-length “episodes” of Into The Dark drop every month, drawing inspiration from that month’s specific holiday. The premiere episode, The Body, just so happens to fall within the best month there is, focusing heavily on the most important, and spookiest holiday of the year.
All Hallow’s Eve. Allhalloween. All Saints Day. Samhain. Hallowe’en. The holiday operates under many different guises, but we all recognize it best as Halloween. Of course, we are not going to delve into the lengthy, various histories associated with the origins of the night where the dead walk among the living. As tradition, we dress in costumes to keep the spirits from recognizing us as humans. The masks we wear helps us blend in with the supernatural while Jack O’Lanterns aid in warding off the evil spirits from our home, as young children travel from house to house trick-or-treating for candy. These fun customs have adopted many elements of horror and has contributed to the genre immensely, for obvious reasons. For one night out of the year, Halloween gives us a chance to be someone or something else.
“The Body has an eclectic, early millennium feel to it from the retro opening credits to the modern bloodbath that befalls the third act.”
The first installment of Blumhouse’s Into The Dark series, The Body is directed by Paul Davis (Patient Seven segment, also titled The Body) and stars Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express), Rebecca Rittenhouse (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Ray Santiago (Ash Vs Evil Dead). This episode takes us on a dark journey through the evening of October 31st following a mysterious murder for hire and the unfortunate, costumed people that he encounters. A variety of points of view, including that of a corpse, quality cinematography, and a handful of perfectly paced twists keeps the party going well past the witching hour. The Body has an eclectic, early millennium feel to it from the retro opening credits to the modern bloodbath that befalls the third act.
Wilkes (Bateman), an intelligent but obvious sociopath, has just completed a hit taken out by an anonymous identity who only communicates with him by phone on Halloween night. Just for a clear character portrayal: If Brendon Urie and Jason Statham procreated, Wilkes would be the resulting being. From that point on he has 4 hours to transport the body to its destination in order to maintain his infamous reputation and collect on the highest paid hit the dark web has ever seen. The streets, and his vehicle, have been vandalized by local partying Halloweensters, so his only option is to move The Body in plain sight. It works out pretty well as everyone around him is pretending to be something they’re not, whether it be realistic or cheap. The fresh blood on his face, along with the saran-wrapped body he lugs around, convincingly portray a clever costume and well made prop.
On his way he is forced to accompany a group of friends, Alan, Dorothy, and Nick, headed to a Halloween party. He reluctantly agrees in hopes of attaining a car to make the trip less conspicuous and the route more comfortable. The party, hosted by Jack Baker (Santiago), an ultimate horror nerd nicknamed “The Monster Maker“, is at the peak point of the evening when they arrive. Wilkes meets an intriguing young woman, Maggie (Rittenhouse), and engages her in some witty banter about self awareness before returning to the issue at hand. He is interceded by Jack and the group along with Maggie as he is coerced to have one more drink. Maggie seems timid and shy, but once the body begins moving and coughing up blood, she, Dorothy, Alan, and Nick, along with the frightened Jack Baker begin to realize Wilkes is not about to win Best Costume, but is actually carrying around a dead body in plain sight.
From there the night goes topsy-turvy in a twisted cat-and-mouse game between Wilkes, who’s found an odd ally in Maggie, and the others who have escaped with the body onto the pumpkin lined streets. As the chase ensues Wilkes runs out of time and patience, while the others try to figure out what to do with the body they inherited, and the end wraps up with some heavy carnage.
“The Body begins with a bang but slightly dismantles itself before the final scene”
Unfortunately, and while I did still enjoy it, the best way for me to share my thoughts on The Body is to organize them by pros and cons. I do believe that the few flaws The Body has are amplified due to the high pedestal we’ve created for Blumhouse releases. They’ve treated us to numerous big screen blockbusters like Get Out, The Purge, and the upcoming Halloween, to softer, yet triumphant releases like Creep, BlacKkKlansman, and Upgrade. Every once in a while there is an off-brand defect that shocks us for being below par, so you can imagine my surprise when The Body begins with a bang but slightly dismantles itself before the final scene.
The story is an interesting take on the Halloween theme. If I was to predict the type of story line we’d see for the first film I would have thought it to be more supernatural and ghostly, however The Body is unique. Despite celebrating a holiday where the dead are free to roam the earth, this has no ghouls, no ghosts, and not even a slasher. I don’t think we can classify Wilkes as a “slasher” type, despite the body count. One thing Blumhouse recognizes is genuine creativity, and The Body is completely original. It’s a fresh step back from what we’d expect.
The plot works really well, as do the major sequence of events, but pacing and logistics are what make it a little less than what we expect from a Blumhouse production. I can see where a little less time spent on certain scenes could have been made up for the lack of content in others and the way smart dialogue in one scene transpired to forced and obtuse decision in the next. I guess the one thing that bothered me most is that the few incessant details within the dialogue and character development put a distracting mask over this incredibly original, entertaining story.
Mostly, The Body successfully captured the essence of Halloween, with the thematic event of hiding behind a mask being predominantly present. Wilkes is hides his identity behind a “costume” that really isn’t a costume at all. Maggie is not self aware, constantly pretending to be someone different than what she truly is: a murderer. The boss, the mastermind behind the whole operation, is never actually seen or given a specific identity. The “Monster Maker” wimps out over the true horror of his reality. The unknown identity of our celebrity victim, and of course, the actual body masked in a saran wrap tomb itself, represents themes of hidden identity and self awareness, a simple element that the legends of Halloween traditions are built on. Like a delicious piece of candy, we need to peel off the wrapper before we can get to the good stuff inside. And even if the treat isn’t your favorite kind, it’s still candy, right? This is not even lame, store-brand candy. This is Blumhouse brand, so we’ll happily accept this treat, whether it’s our preferred flavor or not.
“Like a delicious piece of candy, we need to peel off the wrapper before we can get to the good stuff inside. And even if the treat isn’t your favorite kind, it’s still candy, right?”
Next month, we can be thankful for two things: 11 more months for Into The Dark to provide more terrifying installments and another big, central holiday Blumhouse can surely cash-in on as far as plots go. Let’s hope November’s episode Flesh and Blood remembers all the fixings to complete the meal.