[31 Days of Horror Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan] Day 21 – Into the Dark: The Body (2018)

Director: Paul Davis
Cast: Tom Bateman, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Aurora Perrineau, David Hull, Ray Santiago, Harvey Guillen, Max Adler
Screenplay: Paul Fischer, Paul Davis
83 mins. Rated TV-MA.

You can never count out Blumhouse for trying new things. Back in 2018, the genre studio tried an interesting film experiment. They began a series on Hulu of horror films, released on a monthly basis, timed for a specific holiday or event during that month, and with a wide array of filmmakers behind the lens. I missed a good chunk of them as they released (due to just too many other film reviews that required my attention), and the two that I did see were a little on the underwhelming side of things, but I’m going to change that by jumping in now that the series of films, 24 in total, has come to an end. Let’s jump into that first film, promptly set on Halloween, called The Body.

It’s Halloween night, and cynical hitman Wilkes (Tom Bateman, Murder on the Orient Express, Cold Pursuit) has just taken out another target. Now, he has to transport the plastic-wrapped body, but Halloween is the perfect time to do so, as everyone around Wilkes believes it to be part of his costume. As Wilkes avoids catching the eye of police, he runs into a group of youths looking to make an entrance at their Halloween party, and things seem to be coming together…until they figure out that the body is real.

The opening to this film promises a rather morbid and jaded little genre thriller featuring a pessimistic killer trying to remain out the spotlight. It’s a great concept and a killer of an opening sequence that calls back to the classic Universal horror movies while pushing forward with its interesting tone. I liked the idea that we were following Wilkes as an unlikable but interesting protagonist as he tries to remain unseen but gets caught up in everyone else’s night.

The problem is that we spend too little with Wilkes as he gets involved with the partygoers. Once the film switches gears into Wilkes being an antagonist and us rooting for them, I lost it. The concept of following the hitman had a strange interest to it, like the classic episode of Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Battleground, following a hitman as he deals with little toy soldiers that have come to life intent on killing him. When you do a movie about a hitman, you can have a little fun with the silliness that comes with the concept. The idea of this guy dragging a body around all night was initially quite exciting, but the movie doesn’t spend time there, immediately choosing to involve some annoying party people that are nothing more than fodder. We should’ve followed Wilkes from moment one as he maneuvered through the bustling city streets with a plastic-wrapped corpse in tow.

Once I learned that this was the direction of the movie, I buckled in, and it was mostly entertaining even though it passed up some great territory for something a little more akin to a mixture of The Purge and any classic slasher film. It was enjoyable, but most of the characters outside of Wilkes were rather one-note (classic slasher, am I right?) and just there for extra gore-padding. I was initially interested in Maggie (Rebecca Rittenhouse, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Unfriended: Dark Web), a young woman who teams up with Wilkes, interested in his killing ways, but she became very predictable, and I knew exactly where her character would end up (and I was right).

All in all, if you temper your expectations, The Body is an interesting and somewhat entertaining start to Into the Dark. It’s got a great idea that gets a little more generic as the film goes on, but it’s not the worst way to spend 80 minutes, though get prepared for predictability as you go on.

3/5
-Kyle A. Goethe

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