[Movie Review] INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON
INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON l Courtesy of Blumhouse and Hulu

Fans of Blumhouse and Hulu’s horror anthology series Into The Dark could probably tell you that its sophomore season has been full of inconsistent ups and downs in terms of quality and execution. Throw in a deadly pandemic that halted the series’ ambitious shooting cycle, and you have to wonder how the season will wrap itself up. Today marks the arrival of the season 2 finale titled INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON. One of the strongest installments to date, this werewolf-focused tale’s strength resides in its strong character development between the mother-son duo onscreen. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, though.

BLOOD MOON follows Esme (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and her young son, Luna (Yonas Kibreab), on the lamb and trying to find the next place to rest their heads until it’s time to move again. Violence is hinted at in the film’s opening scene, capturing the viewer’s interest early on. The pair move to the small desert town of Carlson, but Esme’s behavior and presence draw unwanted attention from the locals, particularly of the male variety. However, she can’t draw too much attention. Young Luna has a dangerous secret, one that threatens all around him, including his own mother. How long can the two keep the ruse up in this town before it’s onto the next? You’ll just have to find out by watching.

The first opening scene of INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON easily grabs viewers by the throat and lets us know what the stakes are right from the get-go. It makes it all the easier to believe that Esme and Luna are on the run when we jump forward in time a decade or so later. Due in part to the direction, writing, and performances, we easily see that jumping from town to town is routine enough for the two to have a protocol in place: find an available home, find a job, and keep heads low. However, due to a life on the run and needing to be constantly vigilant, Esme ruffles feathers by threatening a local’s masculinity. This comes back in ways to haunt her as she tries to keep her son’s secret, well, a secret. Because of the performances delivered by Megalyn Echikunwoke and Yonas Kibreab as mother and son, it is all too easy to believe that they are truly related. There’s a believability that can’t be faked and it’s great.

INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON l Courtesy of Hulu

Bringing back Into The Dark veterans turned out to be a great boon for this finale episode because there’s a way that the story is delivered that just works. Screenwriters Adam Mason (I’m Just F*cking With YouThey Come Knocking) and Simon Boyes (Songbird, Hangman) are no strangers to executing films during COVID-19. This shows in how the script shifted more towards exploring the character dynamics between mother and son rather than going the bloody, fangs out-fest that most werewolf pieces go for.  This emphasis on character and the infusion of relevant social commentary regarding law enforcement and abuse of power will keep viewers interested as INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON unwinds. So, hats off to them.

Director Emma Tammi (The Wind), another Into The Dark veteran, directs in a way that is scaled back, allowing the viewer to easily invest in what is going on screen. And, in all honesty, if there were pomp and flashiness onscreen, it would truly take away from what Echikunwoke and Kibreab have developed between the two of them as Esme and Luna respectfully. Whether due to budget or COVID-related restraints, if viewers are expecting multiple transformation sequences, don’t get your hopes up. This story is focused away from transformation. Rather, it focuses on the very important relationship between a mother and her son, both trying to do the best they can considering the circumstances that they’ve been dealt with.

Given the narrow parameters that filmmakers have to work in due to COVID-safety regulations, what the team delivered in this season finale is commendable. While I think ten minutes or so could have been shaved off to speed things up a bit, the final act of INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON is a smack to the face. And, with how much work went into developing the mother-son relationship for viewers onscreen, there is maximum payoff for all involved. You will only want what is best for Esme and Luna in the end and you won’t be able to turn away until you know how the story ends for them. That, I think, is the greatest triumph of this finale. To all involved in the making of this film, thank you.

INTO THE DARK: BLOOD MOON is now available exclusively on Hulu.

Sarah Musnicky
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