Review: The Body


The Body, the first episode of Blumhouse’s monthly series Into the Dark, gleefully subverts expectations of horror tropes with style and reverence.

The Body is more than the average first episode of a TV series. Blumhouse’s Into the Dark is set to run one episode per month on Hulu. Each episode revolves around a holiday. Since they have 80-90 minute run times, they’re more like movies than just an episode of TV with spiffy production values.

A Simple Set-Up

This episode of Into the Dark, written by Paul Davis and Paul Fischer and directed by Paul Davis, revolves around Halloween. We meet Wilkes (Tom Bateman) just after he’s killed someone.

He’s a hitman with a problem. Wilkes has to move the body to a specific location by a certain time, but the tires on his car have been slashed by Halloween pranksters. While dragging the body through the street, he comes across a group of people headed to a party.

Does Wilkes have to dispatch them immediately? Nope! They think the body is part of a killer Halloween costume.

The group includes Dorothy ‘Don’t Call Me Dot’ (Aurora Perrineau), college age pedigree bro Alan (David Hull), and Steam Punk enthusiast Nick (Harvey Guillen). They promise Wilkes that they’ll give him a ride if he comes and has one drink at their friend’s Halloween party.

That party is hosted by coked up trust fund kid Jack (Ray Santiago). At the party, Wilkes meets data  analyst Maggie (Rebecca Rittenhouse). Sparks fly and things spin out of control quickly.

The Rom Com We Deserve

No. You won’t find the slapstick or forced jokes of typical rom coms here. This is, after all, a horror anthology series. But, Maggie is almost instantly drawn to Wilkes at first sight. It makes sense. He’s hot. And, like most rom coms, Maggie identifies him as the only other person in the room who does not want to be there.

Television-The Body-Courtesy of Blumhouse

Maggie is a data analyst. It looks like she’s a great one at that. She wastes no time in determining that Wilkes is more dangerous than he appears. Maggie gets help on this.

Wilkes openly admits that the body is real to almost everyone that mentions it. The partygoers think his attitude is just a part of the costume. That concept of attitude plays into things later.

But, Maggie catches on pretty quickly that Wilkes is carrying around a real dead body. As other characters come to the same realization, people become scared, threats are made, and new bodies start to pile up. Things get hectic and Wilkes is separated from the body he brought.

Fear is a part of being attracted to someone. Your internal dialogue questions your very soul: Will they even find me attractive? Do they even know I exist? Am I stupid for even thinking about this person like that?

Luckily for us, Maggie and Wilkes exist in a more evolved story. So Maggie’s internal fear is: Should I really help this hitman find the dead body he just lost? Maggie audibly answers her own fears while looking into a bathroom mirror:

“What are you doing? Sure. He’s smart. He’s strong. He’s employed. He candle handle me. The timing is a little off. But. Grow through conflict.”

Grow through conflict. That’s the most important line of dialogue for Maggie’s character. She’s not a damsel in distress. She doesn’t need to be saved. Wilkes constantly says “There is no we” and shoots down any hint of a relationship.

If Wilkes would like to come along for the ride, Maggie would be cool with that. He’s a snack.

But, Maggie knows she’s more than a data analyst. There’s a bigger world out there for her. If Wilkes is just a turn key to that world, so be it.

Maggie and Wilkes have chemistry, which is due in large part to the acting of Rittenhouse and Bateman. They’re totally open and seductive while still presenting themselves as closed off and wary.

These two use each other in ways that are extremely dangerous for the people around them, but safely self serving to themselves. I enjoyed every minute of that dynamic.

The Actual Losers Club

Dorothy, Jack, and Alan are able to get away from Wilkes a couple of times. They have considerable means among them to run and get away safely.

Instead, they attempt to save the body from Wilkes. You read that correctly. They’re trying to save a dead body from a hitman.

The three have a moment of clarity and realize how pointless and silly their quest is. But it’s too late. With Maggie’s help, Wilkes tracks down the group.

Maggie takes particular glee in setting up evidence to frame Jack and Alan for the murder. It involves text messages, body cam footage, and Jack asking, “Is that an emoji?”

Wilkes’ plan backfires. The group decides that the only way to avoid being implicated in the body’s murder is to destroy it. Yup. They went from wanting to save the dead body to wanting to erase any trace of its existence.

Television-The Body-Courtesy of Blumhouse

The group tries to melt the body a la Breaking Bad. That’s messy and complicated. So, our band of heroes head off to a funeral home in order to incinerate the body in a crematorium oven.

The gang of Dorothy, Jack, and Alan are the way a side story with comic relief should be written. They fuel the action and provide the social commentary that is essential to a good horror film. I loved all three.

Jack is a trust fund kid who loves hard core scares. He loves spectacle. The way Ray Santiago plays him, Jack is new to the money.

Not new-money. Just, new to it. As if he gained absolute control of all the funds within the last few years.

There’s a relatable quality in that. When Jack tries to buy someone off with a wad of cash, he doesn’t just toss it. I got a real sense that Jack was strapped for cash at some point. He knows how much of a difference money can make in someone’s life.

Jack seems to have lost himself in the lifestyle he aspired to live: full of scares, prop gore, and hosting huge parties. He snorts coke, but I felt like he was doing that just to keep up with that lifestyle.

When he’s faced with the reality of the evening, Jack admits he likes scares and prop gore because there are no consequences. The world he finds himself in is far too real.

Alan is the personification of White Privilege. When he’s confronted with a problem, he literally uses his face to try and resolve it. The group has a run in with a cop. Dorothy and Jack are people of color and they are profiled immediately. A gun is drawn on them.

Alan steps in front of the gun and orders to the cop to slow down. And, the gun is lowered. Voila. But, that doesn’t completely diffuse the situation. That leaves Alan stunned. He tries to make things clear:

“My name is Alan Morgan Adams. You know. Of the Massachusetts Morgan Adamses. What? Don’t you know? Morgan! Adamses!”

Lines like that make this character human. Where Jack would try to buy people off with money, Alan probably has someone to do that for him. He’s removed from everything.

Alan is not a caricature made to make all white people look dumb. He’s an ultra specific character that’s there to showcase cluelessness. David Hull handles this perfectly in his performance. He makes Alan an earnest, honest, and well meaning guy. He’s just in a warm and cozy bubble.

Television-The Body-Courtesy of Getty Images for Hulu

Dorothy is on a parallel path with Maggie. There is a bigger world out there for her. She’s smart, resourceful, and supremely confident. These are all realizations and traits that Dorothy becomes aware of during the night’s events.

As more of the night plays out, I wondered why Dorothy would be friends with Jack and Alan. They’re rich and throw great parties, but she doesn’t seem interested in that.

At one point she might have been. Likely because these two dudes would give her access to that world. She could springboard herself into it further through networking and just by being seen.

Aurora Perrineau nails this performance. She doesn’t make leaps and bounds with Dorothy’s progression throughout the episode. There’s a gradual growth that is accompanied by growing fear that keeps pace. Perrineau gets louder and clearer with her words and yells.

There’s something in her eyes, as well. To me, it conveyed a realization: Dorothy may have befriended Jack and Alan for access to a certain world, but she may be her best hope to get out of it alive.

Maggie tells herself to grow through conflict. Dorothy is living that life, but has no interest in it. When Dorothy controls her fear, she makes a move that’s equal parts brilliant and hard core.

The kind of thing that Jack would love. In that moment, Dorothy allows fate to decide what happens next. But it’s her choice. Dorothy is in control and owns it.

What is Wilkes?

Early in the episode, Wilkes is commenting on the elegance of casu marzu. That’s traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese topped with live maggots. It’s a delicacy. It’s also rare to find outside of Sardinia. This cheese serves as the perfect way to introduce Wilkes’ character.

I’ve never tried it. I won’t knock it. But, it sounds off-putting. I feel many people would agree. And that sums up Wilkes.

He appreciates everything, especially what people consider off-putting, because none of it matters. Sure. Maggots are gross.

They show up around death and decay. You could argue that eating them is a triumph over death and decay. Wilkes would roll his eyes at you.

His take would be, you found a way to make cheese better in the most unconventional way. And that’s worth savoring.

There’s this great conversation that Maggie and Wilkes have in a bar. Don’t worry. The action keeps going and is fueled by what happens during the conversation.

Television-The Body-Courtesy of Blumhouse

The two work out existence for us: In life, a lot happens, but not much is made to happen. Consequences are real. Consequences are power. Many run from them. If you can take control of the consequences, you have power.

Maggie asks Wilkes if doing bad things like killing people is hard. Wilkes’ response? “Maggie, none of it is hard.”

Related Story. Ray Santiago doesn’t know where he’s going but it won’t be boring. light

That made me wonder if this guy is pure evil. We’ve seen the tales of a ton of Halloween slashers. Wilkes is like them in some ways. But he’s not malevolent.

He’s not out for justice. He doesn’t even have a blood lust. That’s the scary part about him. There’s no agenda.

There’s a randomness to his appearance in your life. Whether or not you survive it is up to fate. He’s only doing his job. Like Wilkes says, “If you find a job you love, you never work a day in your life.”

The Body is a funny, exciting addition to movies and shows I’ll rewatch every Halloween season. Have you seen The Body yet? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments!