Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work
into the dark | into the dark: a nasty piece of work | charles hood | paul soter | molly hagan | natalie hall | kyle howard | julian sands | thriller | united states | dustin milligan | angela sarafyan | nico greetham | bob bancroft | patrick gorman
Film: Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work
Director: Charles Hood
Writer: Paul Soter
Starring: Molly Hagan, Natalie Hall and Kyle Howard
When I signed up for Hulu, Into the Dark was something that was a part of the decision. I’ve only seen 3 of the episodes though, but I plan to eventually check them all out. I was trying to find a second film for my double feature for my podcast and I heard an interview with Julian Sands on a podcast. I decided to give this a viewing as it doubled as a 2019 watch as well. The synopsis is the boss of a private equity company invites a couple of his employees over to a Christmas party that turns out to be an intense competition for a promotion.
We start this off with Ted (Kyle Howard) returning to work. The first chapter of the Falconheart Rules to get ahead is to show initiative. Ted went to get his boss’ golf clubs when he heard him say that he wanted to get a round in. The problem is that be brought the wrong ones and he’s mocked by not only his boss, Steven (Julian Sands), but his rival co-worker Gavin (Dustin Milligan). Ted snaps and uses one of them on a mirror in the bathroom.
It then shifts to Christmas. Ted is anxiously waiting to see if he is going to a bonus and Steven reveals that they’re not doing it this year. Ted talks to his wife, who tries to calm him down, but Ted decides to confront Steven. It is on the balcony and Ted seems to be contemplating throwing him over. He is stopped though when Steven invites Ted and his wife over for dinner that night. He reveals about a new program that he wants to discuss there.
Ted’s wife is Tatum (Angela Sarafyan). She isn’t on the same level as the place they’re going and it makes Ted concerned with the earrings she chose. She tells him to put away his cynicism and sarcasm for the night as it gets him in trouble. When they arrive, they get a better idea of the situation. They’re hosted by Steven and his wife Kiwi (Molly Hagan) and the only other guests are Gavin and his wife Missy (Natalie Hall). Ted gets the feeling he saw someone when they pulled up, but Steven assures him there’s no one else there.
As our synopsis states, it then turns into a game that progressively gets worse and worse as Ted and Gavin compete for this promotion, but the problem is, there isn’t really one. The idea is that one of them will no longer be with the company so the other will have their salary doubled, but the stakes are a bit higher even than that.
Now as I said, I heard Sands interviewed on a podcast so I had a grasp on the idea coming in. This isn’t really a new concept though. The first film that pops into my head is Would You Rather. This movie isn’t as extreme as that one, but the general concept of needing to play this game that gets progressively worse is similar.
This overall feel though is kind of odd if I’m going to be honest. Kiwi and Steven make it awkward with how they speak to each other. It makes it uncomfortable for the other two couples and I do like that. It does get played out a bit and I will admit, the feel of the film is a bit off. There’s some random comedy spread throughout, which I know if I was in the situation, I would awkwardly laugh as that is what I do in tense situations. The problem though is that I don’t necessarily know if this builds enough tension though.
Since I’ve shifted to it a bit, I do think the editing though of this is good. The film doesn’t mess around. We get a runtime of less than 90 minutes. What does really work is that the characters are introduced during the game. We get the general idea of them, but then we get things revealed as it progresses so it kind of makes it a character study where people are forced to give this information. They also aren’t always the one that is doing it. There is the even feel that I touched on above, but I will admit I dug the ending. This even more so with how the character is treated.
Something else from the story though I want to go over before moving on, this is really taking a look at the rich and powerful. Since we know this is a game, Steven and Kiwi show what happens when people who are in their position don’t necessarily play by the rules we all do and think they can do whatever they want. They’re literally toying with these two families that just want to get ahead partially for their own amusement. I do really like this aspect.
I want to shift this to the acting. Hagan was really good as the loud mouth wife here. I love that she is constantly going after her husband for being impotent, which is ironic for the position that he has with his corporation. I can see that a parallel here with one of the most ‘powerful’ men in our country as well. Hall I thought fit well as the ditzy blonde who probably is used to the position that she is in. She does get tested in a way that made me feel bad for her though. I liked to see her performance in dealing with it. I really like Howard though. I see myself in him, down to the sarcasm and cynical nature when it comes to work. I feel I would act very similar to him as well if I was in this position. Milligan plays the guy who isn’t as good at the job and probably doesn’t deserve it, but he’s willing to throw anyone under the bus to get there. Plus he’s portraying this façade even though it is ruining him. Sands is just a legend. I really like seeing him in this position as his accent just embodies the character he is portraying. Then finally Sarafyan, she is quite subdued in this role, but she is kind of the voice of reason. I think she has the best change of all the characters though for sure.
That will take me to the effects of this movie, which I thought were really good. We don’t get a lot if I’m going to be honest, but they do seem to be practical. They do a really good job at hiding them and just giving us a glimpse. I think the blood though looks quite real and the wounds also have a realistic look as well. It is shot very well if I’m going to be honest. I think some of the framing works to build the tension.
Now with that said, this film doesn’t have the most original story, but I do think that it does do some things really well. Working in an office, I’ve contended with co-workers for promotions, so I get that side personally. Seeing them pushed as they are is quite creepy for sure. I think that the acting really helps to bring this to life though. The pacing though I do have issues with as the film just has an uneven feel. I think some of the humor, though I would probably use it due to my awkward nature, but it hurts some of the tension for me as I didn’t really know if the game was going to go as far as I wanted it to. I think the running time was good. There weren’t a lot in the way of effects, but what we get looked really good and it is framed well for reveals later. The soundtrack didn’t necessarily stand out. It did fit for what was needed. Overall I thought this was a solid installment with some slight issues. I would rate this as above average if I’m going to be honest.
My Rating: 7 out of 10