Into the Dark: “Flesh & Blood”

Into The Dark -- "Flesh and Blood" - Kimberly, a teenager suffering from agoraphobia, has not left the house since her mother’s murder, which remains unsolved. While under the care of her doting father on the eve of Thanksgiving, Kimberly begins to suspect that she is in danger, and that it’s always the ones you love that hurt you the most. Henry (Dermot Mulroney) and Kimberly (Diana Silvers), shown. (Photo by: Aaron Epstein/Hulu)

In its second episode, Into the Dark takes on less of a humorous tone than the first, “The Body”. Here, in “Flesh & Blood”, Kimberly (Diana Silvers) finds herself facing the upcoming year mark of her mother’s death, while her father Henry (Dermot Mulroney) deals with overdue house renovations. She suffers agoraphobia from the traumatic event of her mother’s murder, and a new revelation threatens to upend her entire worldview and the remainder of her family.

It’s a heightened 93 minutes, written by Louis Ackerman and directed by Patrick Lussier. As the pieces connect and the main thrust of the story starts to unfold, the trust in her father starts to fail. It mostly works as a pulpy horror story tied to the Thanksgiving holiday, a little reminiscent of other recent home invasion style romps, like The Babysitter and Mom & Dad. It’s not as exaggerated as those, though Mulroney’s performance does suggest it at times. There’s a camp to its choices, with each attempt by Kimberly to break free of her surroundings, where she is held back by something trivial. It’s part of the genre, a trope, but still frustrating and unfortunate in a few cases. But where it does work is in managing to give a reason for the main character not to leave the house, where escape is not entirely an option while still trying to run.

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Mulroney, Into the Dark: “Flesh & Blood”.

The episode knows when to employ Kimberly’s agoraphobia and when to use her possible confusion or paranoia on the medication she takes. It helps to build uncertainty not just in the viewer, but in Kimberly herself, the point of view of the episode really selling the troubled and perhaps fractured view of past events and how they reflect on her present. “Flesh & Blood” makes her discoveries something easily explained, when in totality they start to give a darker and more nefarious meaning. Mulroney as her father is a systematic and gradual performance, where you aren’t sure what to make of him, after seeing the kinder side of him beforehand. He grows more manic in his performance as the chips begin to fall and is magnetic to watch.

Silvers makes for a good protagonist in Kimberly, whose fears of the outside world and the grief of her mother’s untimely passing can be felt in her character. The sessions with her therapist, played by Tembi Locke, help show a window into her trauma and worry, and Silvers does well, especially as the horror side of the story starts to become a more physical and imposing performance for her to work in.

“Flesh & Blood” does work as the second entry in the Into the Dark series, but it is mired by feeling too familiar (though props for a certain The Shining upward door shot) and not going far enough with its premise. It does have something to say and says it boldly with its leads, Silvers and Mulroney. If only the rest rose to their performances.

★★★

Into the Dark: “Flesh & Blood” begins streaming on Hulu on November 2nd.

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