Hulu: Pilgrim gives new life to Thanksgiving horror

When Hulu debuted its Into the Dark series last year, I was  excited about the concept, especially since it was produced by Blumhouse Productions. Blumhouse brought us Paranormal Activity, The Purge and Get Out  (among others), so it only makes sense that they finally hit the jackpot with Pilgrim.

At one episode per month, Into the Dark promised to deliver a stand-alone horror movie that would tie into that month. The first installment was released in October, so the theme of The Body was, of course, Halloween. I watched it, and my verdict was that it was OK, but not great. Everything leading up to Pilgrim was pretty much the same.

November brought us Flesh & Blood, which had very little to do with its so-called theme of Thanksgiving, and was also underwhelming. The December installment of Pooka! Was a little better, but to be honest, I kind of lost interest for the rest of the year (though I did watch Down and They Come Knocking).

I gave Into the Dark another shot with October’s Uncanny Annie, and I was really glad I did; it was, in my opinion, the best episode so far. It was creepy and darkly funny, so I decided to watch the November episode, Pilgrim.

Pilgrim is INSANE. It’s brutal and bloody, and I loved every minute of it. Best of all, unlike most of the Into the Dark episodes, it fully embraces the holiday of the month; I mean, let’s face it, Thanksgiving horror movies are few and far between, right? Flesh & Blood could have been set at any time of the year, and Thankskilling is just dumb, so it’s refreshing to finally have a “signature” Thanksgiving horror film to go back to every year.

Pilgrim

Into The Dark — “Pilgrim” – Episode 114 — Inspired by true events: In an attempt to remind her family of their privilege and help them bond, Ms. Anna Barker invites Pilgrim reenactors to stay with them over Thanksgiving. When the ÒactorsÓ refuse to break character, the Barker family learns that there is such a thing as too much gratitude. Ethan (Peter Giles) and Patience (Elyse Levesque), shown. (Photo by: Patrick Wymore/Hulu)

Shane and Anna are a financially comfortable couple living in suburbia with his teenage daughter Cody, and their young son Tate. Cody and Tate have real affection for one another, but Cody is at odds with her father and, especially, with her stepmother.

At the dinner table one evening, Anna announces that Thanksgiving will be different this year, since she has hired a couple of Pilgrim re-enactors to recreate the first Thanksgiving at their house. Anna thinks this will encourage the family to put aside their differences (and their electronic devices) and make them appreciate the good life they have. Cody thinks it’s a dumb idea, and when she and Tate break the wishbone at dinner, she wishes that Anna’s Thanksgiving plan will backfire.

When Pilgrims Ethan and Patience (played to creepy perfection by Peter Giles and Elyse Levesque) show up at their door a few days early, Anna allows them to commence with their pilgrim activities. Ethan is over-the-top cheery, but Patience has crazy eyes and a terrifying intensity – she looks like an explosion getting ready to happen.

Cody, of course dislikes the pilgrims on sight, Tate is good natured enough to follow along, and Dad barely notices, so engrossed is he in his tablet and phone. Let’s just say Cody has the right idea here, and things start to go south pretty quickly.

The last thirty minutes of Pilgrim goes off the rails in a seriously jaw-dropping, very good way. Warning: the eventual Thanksgiving feast is not for the weak of stomach. I recommend either watching Pilgrim on Thanksgiving Eve to kick-start your holiday, or watching it after your feast on the actual day.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of Into the Dark, and I see myself watching it every year around Thanksgiving. The question is: should I watch it before or after my other favorite, Planes, Trains and Automobiles?

Next: Shudder extends Halloween with November additions

Are you a fan of Into the Dark? How do you think Pilgrim measured up? Let us know in the comments section.

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