Hulu’s Tentacles Review: Into The Dark Returns With Body Horror
We were chugging along well with Hulu’s Into the Dark series last year. Then, of course, came the you-know-what and with it, TV and movie shutdowns. Well, the series is back now, and so we present our Tentacles review.
It’s Been 84 Years: Please Remind Me What Into The Dark Is
In case you missed my Current Occupant review, the last Into the Dark offering, then here’s a quick explanation. Into the Dark is a Blumhouse-fueled anthology series available exclusively on Hulu. Each month, at least until the world came to a halt last year, they release a new holiday-themed horror film. And boy, are they sometimes breezy on what constitutes a holiday.
Sure, they’ll do a Thanksgiving or a Mother’s Day movie. But they’ll also do an episode around a more general theme, like back to school. Or lesser-known “holidays” like Daughter’s Day. (Me, yelling offscreen: Is that a thing?) Sometimes the holiday is integral to the plot, like the first Halloween film, The Body, which finds a hitman trying to dispose of a corpse while dodging costumed revelers. Other times, it’s more like a vibe in the air, as in New Year, New You, which takes place on New Year’s Eve, but has little to do with the date. You get it.
As for Tentacles, it’s a Valentine’s Day-themed installment. Salomé, why are there two Valentine’s Day movies in season two? Girl, I don’t know. Who am I, Jason Blum?
Eight Arms To Hold You: What’s This All About Then?
image via Hulu
It’s your classic boy meets girl, things get weird story. Mysterious (and troubled) Tara (Dana Drori) shows up at an open house that Sam (Casey Deidrick) is hosting with his business partner Esther (Kasey Elise). There is chemistry between them right away. That feels like an understatement, though, since they have sex at the open house. Well, Sam and Tara do. Esther’s not a part of it.
Tara confesses that she has nowhere to go, but she does have money and she’s looking for a challenge. So she and Sam strike a deal. She’ll move into his late parents’ home and renovate it. He keeps coming over, she gives him the full-court press, and unsurprisingly, they fall totally and stupidly in lust. But there’s something weird going on.
First, they get unnerving phone calls from a guy who calls Tara by another name. She seems to have run from a situation, but she doesn’t want to elaborate on the details, beyond saying it’s a stalker ex. Then Sam starts experiencing odd symptoms–a bleeding ear, hallucinations, etc.–but what exact malady are they symptoms of?
image via Hulu
As I’ve mentioned before in my Into the Dark reviews, I haven’t seen all of them. However, as I was considering my review of Tentacles, it struck me right away as different from the ones I’ve seen so far. From the start, it’s unsettling, immersing you immediately into a world that feels almost dreamlike. (That’s probably appropriate, though, since Alexandra Pechman, who wrote the movie based on a story she developed with Nick Antosca, said it started with a dream she had.)
The relationship between Sam and Tara, for instance, moves so quickly, so assuredly that at first, I thought I was missing something. Like, do these two know each other already? Is this encounter at the open house some kind of relationship game, a way to spice things up? It’s quickly revealed that no, they weren’t previously acquainted. They did just meet each other. This is just that kind of coupling, where two people fall fast and hard.
Or is it? I was sure right away that one or both of them was hiding something. I couldn’t, however, figure out which one it was or what they were hiding. As such, it was fun to watch as the movie slowly parcels out its secrets. Part of it I was expecting, but another part was wholly surprising. Both parts work, though, revealing a character who might be lonely, but is definitely a survivor.
If there’s a part that doesn’t work for me, then it’s the length. For the majority of the film, Tentacles succeeds in creating an atmosphere of dread. However, once we learn more about what’s happening, the conclusion seems to drag. As I’ve written before, Into the Dark‘s films often suffer from an excess of time and a lack of story. Tentacles takes its time in revealing its story, so it doesn’t feel as light as some previous efforts. It could still be a bit tighter, though. In addition, some viewers may feel shortchanged at the end, when they don’t get all the answers. For the most part, though, this is one of Into the Dark‘s better offerings.
Here’s the trailer for Tentacles; it reveals a bit too much for my taste, though, so be warned.
Tentacles is now available on Hulu.
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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at [email protected]