Dysfunctional doesn’t cover this family.
In partnership with Blumhouse Television, Hulu Original Into The Dark is a year-round horror event series, with a new installment released each month inspired by a holiday and to feature Blumhouse’s signature genre/thriller spin on the story. The second episode, “Flesh & Blood”, will be available to stream on Hulu on November 2nd. This recap will contain minor spoilers.
Following Into the Dark’s first successful episode comes Hulu’s equally entertaining instalment, “Flesh and Blood”. This episode revolves around the tale of a young woman, Kimberly, who suffers from Agoraphobia. The condition is a direct result of the unsolved mystery of her mother’s murder. Kimberly lives with her devoted father, Henry, spending her day waking up, watching TV, and eventually falling back to sleep. A mundane life only interrupted by the odd reluctant therapy sessions with her given psychiatrist.
The episode begins by showcasing the humdrum cycle that our protagonist finds herself in, never leaving the house in fear of the unknown and her mistrust of the outside world. Eventually, we reach just another day in the life of grief-stricken Kimberly, only this time it’s her birthday. Keeping the celebrations to a minimum Kimberley and her father enjoy dinner; Henry hands Kimberly a necklace as a humble birthday present. A welcome surprise until Kimberley sees the very same necklace pictured around the neck of a woman on a missing person report. With shock and suspicion, Kimberley is driven to investigate her father’s belongings. After finding some questionable items Kimberley decides to confront her father as her growing suspicion begins to consume her.
Accusations of paranoia and delusion are cheaply thrown at Kimberly’s scepticism towards her father, acting as a tool to dismiss her logical thoughts and deductions. Unfortunately, Kimberley’s Agoraphobia has been associated with previous examples of paranoia and capricious changes in mental stability. This provides Henry with plenty of ammunition to generously discredit everything that Kimberly says. This is further encouraged by the periodic presence of Kimberley’s psychiatrist, who expresses concern for Kimberley’s lack of progress.
Given the nature of the accusations, tensions rise and soon turn to encroachment as the father becomes more and more aggressive in his response. Henry soon begins to muddle his explanations and excuses for his seemingly perfect alibis. All facade begins to crumble as Henry loses his stability, letting his rage at the accusations blind his attempts to appear innocent.
This all happens within the first half-hour of the episode; the rest of the show evolves into an exciting game of cat and mouse. Kimberleys fear of leaving the house ensures moments that are equally as entertaining as they are frustrating. The audience will find themselves willing Kimberley to just open the front door instead of moving on to progressively more inescapable situations.
“Flesh and Blood” can become tiresome its action. Intriguing at first and at times quite thrilling, unfortunately, the pace soon feels a drag as the audience wait to see the inevitable conclusion. Although refreshing in its story and intriguing enough to drag you in, this instalment of Into the Dark is regrettably predictable, with the general “ending” being obvious within the first 30 minutes of the episode. This choice of transparency may have acted as a way to keep a steady feeling of tension as the audience begin to wait for the when and not the why of the narrative. This script choice is not in my taste, though, as I felt the entire mystery was taken away too early, and the anticipation for the resolution quickly becomes undoubtedly monotonous.
Kimberly was played by Diana Silvers, with Into the Dark her big-screen debut. Silvers succeeds in delivering a fragile and insecure character. Henry was played by Dermot Mulroney, who excels in bringing a marvellous balance between doting father and delusional psycho. Disturbing and brilliant as Henry, Mulroney showcases a disconcerting interpretation of a broken man. The audience will experience remarkable subtleties in Mulroney’s acting as his character progressively becomes more and more unhinged.
Overall “Flesh and Blood” doesn’t leave much to the imagination. With an obvious plot and an unassuming protagonist, this addition to the Into the Dark series will most likely fail to be memorable. Mulroney could be the key to this instalment’s success; without his twisted and neurotic influence, Into the Dark may have fallen a little too flat. Given the nature of the story, “Flesh and Blood” seems to miss very clear opportunities to explore and cover the characters’ inner conflictions towards the situation. Instead, this episode gives in to easy chases and predictable thrills. This being said, “Flesh and Blood” is still a pleasant nod to the horror genre, covering interesting themes of family, possession and mental health.