A hitman has four hours to get a body across town; he just needs to get it back. This is the premise of the first episode in Hulu’s Into the Dark series, an anthology horror show themed around the holiday of each month. “The Body”, its inaugural episode airing on October 5th, finds Wilkes (Tom Bateman) trying to get an assassinated target to a specific location at 2 a.m. during Halloween evening. He’s mistaken as a man in a hitman costume rather than the real thing and finds himself stuck at a party with the body in search of transport. This is where he meets Maggie (Rebecca Rittenhouse), who helps Wilkes as a few kids steal the body once they realize it’s not a prop.
For “The Body”, it’s a feature-length episode rich with pop culture references and characters in way over their heads, making bad decisions and falling prey to a night of horrors. Some are strangely adept at their new circumstances, like Rittenhouse’s Maggie, nearly wild-eyed and enjoying the madness the night has provided her. Dorothy (Aurora Perrineau), Allan (David Hull), and Jack (Ray Santiago), the three who have stolen the body, are a tough group to actively enjoy, having lived rich and entitled and treating this as their first ever problem in life (which actually comes out as a line of dialogue, by chance). Their side of the story doesn’t always add up but does find some fun in the process during the third act (and a pretty good Breaking Bad reference).
It’s in the pairing of Wilkes and Maggie that “The Body” finds its most charm, an odd couple tied together for an evening, where Maggie’s worldview comes crashing down while she finds something she loves. Rittenhouse is the major star of the episode, always a joy to watch.
The bloodshed is done in a comical fashion, played with a suddenness and a wink and a nod. The third act turns into a slasher, using its final location in clever but familiar ways. The show has comedic beats, some working, some not working, and it’s a fun little game of seeing Halloween costumes from beloved films in the background and foreground. The episode is philosophical at times, cluing in on the characters and their views on modern society. It’s a whole lot of cynicism, in most cases, and understandably so, based on Wilkes’ killing machine mentality and Maggie’s glazed over view of normalcy and the need for something more.
This all leads to an episode of television about women empowerment, as both Maggie and Dorothy are the brains of both parties. “The Body” makes due with both characters standing out above the rest, and they help elevate their respective narratives, but the remainder around them leaves a little to be desired. It’s a nice, quick slasher flick in television form, with lots of stabbing and enjoyable to watch. It’s a little lackluster as the start of a monthly anthology series, but there could be something here if it doesn’t punch too high above its weight.
Into the Dark is available monthly on Hulu. “The Body” airs October 5th.