Lust can make us believe we are in love. Sometimes it can make us think the darnedest things about a partner, glossing over red flags, and forgiving the most egregious of sins because, well, horniness. However, this honeymoon phase of endorphins and bunny channeling shenanigans can have negative consequences. Especially when you realize that you might not actually know who you are sleeping with. This all seems to be the case with INTO THE DARK: TENTACLES, the much-delayed latest installment of Blumhouse‘s and Hulu’s anthology horror series. Was the wait worth it? This reviewer thinks this latest installment will, unfortunately, leave viewers with blue balls.
The audience is introduced to Tara (Dana Drori) in a tense opening scene that establishes a familiar concept – a partner in a DV situation. From this point on, the audience follows this wandering woman to Los Angeles, where she runs into photographer Sam (Casey Deidrick) at an open house. The chemistry is palatable and they hook-up. Tara reveals that she’s trying to find a place to stay and the two strike a bargain. She helps to renovate Sam’s inherited house given to him by his parents. In exchange, she can live there. The bond between the two grows and both are completely in lust with each other. Note: this reviewer says lust because there are red flags both give off along the way that gets brushed off once sexy times are initiated.
Unfortunately, the good times do not last. Mysterious phone calls, Sam’s declining health, and more start to intervene with the couple’s relationship status. But will this couple call it quits? You’ll have to watch INTO THE DARK: TENTACLES to find out. Oh, and it should be said that there is an unfortunate lack of tentacles in this film. Yes, this reviewer is salty by that. And no, there will no apologies for that accidental pun either.
To say that this latest installment of Into The Dark follows the same unfortunate path as some of its preceding installments this season would be an understatement. This reviewer can cut some slack since production on this film was heavily impacted by COVID-19. However, INTO THE DARK: TENTACLES suffers from a multitude of sins (and not necessarily of the fun variety.) Most of the issues, though, are storyline-based. Based on a story by Alexandra Pechman (“Channel Zero”) and Nick Antosca (The Act, Antlers), the script still feels like it is almost there, but not quite due to its threadbare characters and unwillingness to decide if it wants to be a horror film or not. While this reviewer did have issues with direction and execution of performances delivered by actors in this film, I’m not necessarily certain even the best acting could have fixed the issues within the script. Especially given the late inclusion of supernatural elements that felt more shoehorned in than not.
The audience spends a good 2/3 of the film watching the couple’s relationship develop rapidly onscreen. It’s almost like a love story but, as I’ve mentioned before, there are warning signs. Both Tara and Sam are quick to escalate, albeit in an overly dramatic fashion. Whether this delivery was courtesy of direction or inputted into the script itself, this reviewer can’t say, but it did read as forced and unnatural onscreen. While there are a fair amount of sex scenes in INTO THE DARK: TENTACLES, it’s not entirely meant for titillation. Sex is used as a crutch as the two navigate their ever-escalating relationship. It sooner lends itself to being a much brighter red flag later on in the film but this reviewer wants to give a shout-out to director Clara Aranovich for motion-blurriness during one particular sex scene. Both beautiful to watch and showing the audience how sex-focused their relationship is, it provides a much-needed dose of visual identity that this film otherwise lacks.
This reviewer has been a proud supporter of the Into The Dark series since its launch. That said, given the time between installments, it’s difficult not to be frustrated that the final product wasn’t executed as smoothly as it could have been. The potential of INTO THE DARK: TENTACLES shines so brightly due to certain elements in the script, the actors available, and Aranovich’s more than capable hands. But, upon review, the film itself lacks a cohesive plot-driven identity. What supernatural elements it possesses are tacked on too late in the film’s duration and, by the time the audience gets to that point, the film is already dead in the water. A final round of re-working the script would have fixed the pacing issues and, perhaps, made the film itself a more intensive journey for the viewers.
INTO THE DARK: TENTACLES will anchor down just in time for Valentine’s Day, premiering exclusively on Hulu on February 12, 2021.