Movies

Pilgrim

{Into the Dark Review} Hulu’s Pilgrim is the Ultimate “Ok Boomer”

The Into the Dark Season Two November episode posits an interesting question. What if England was right to persecute the puritans because…..they were bat shit crazy.  Honestly, though I felt like Pilgrim was a fantastic entry into what has become a monthly staple from Hulu and Blumhouse.  While some of the entries have been pretty hit or miss this month’s is pretty spectacular mostly for its spectacle. 

Summary

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 “actors” refuse to break character, the Barker family learns that there is such a thing as too much gratitude.

I don’t know how much of this is really inspired by a “true story”. I took it mostly to mean that the puritans did a lot of really awful stuff to people who didn’t believe the same things as they did. Which is pretty much a true story. Anna a semi desperate housewife desperately tries to hold onto a family that is quickly fracturing by inviting actors to come in on Thanksgiving and give them an authentic Thanksgiving experience (you know like every Monday when I try to ban cell phones at the dinner table, so we can “be a family”). Except I am not quite sure that the costumed pilgrims are ever actors and as a result, they play their parts to the scarlet letter, including drowning some witches, lopping off some body parts, and of course condemning amoral behavior.  Essentially by the end of the movie, it looks like Mike Pence’s wet dream (“pass the cranberry sauce and the conversion therapy mother”).

This episode is a big swing.  Director Marcus Dunstan is not afraid to make big choices.  Tonally this movie felt closer to Mandy then it did Thankskilling. One moment it was funny, the next it was bonkers. These shifts in tone totally worked for me but also left me with a fair number of questions. First instance, the Pilgrims that take over the lives of our suburban family feel too real to be cosplaying. They seem to be a product of a wishbone parading as a monkey’s paw.

As our two pilgrims do pilgrim things (raise barns and churn butter) the episode drags a bit but always with a little crazy around the edges. When the movie finally commits to the bizarre it almost ventures into the realm of schlock. I say that not as a criticism but as an effective way to capture yet again another tonal shift.  It’s the commitment of Ethan (Peter Giles) and Patience (Elyse Levesque) that make the movie so bizarre. There is never a wink or a nod to the camera.  There is no joke for the audience to be in on.  Just Ethan smoking a corncob pipe and patience darning some socks. It’s like we got a sneak peek at the tenth season of Westworld. Its really weird.

 Photo Credit Hulu and Patrick Wymore

Our final girl, Cody is everything you want out of a modern leading lady.  She smokes, she hangs out with her boyfriend, She is pretty smart and observant, and she does not think her mother’s idea of experiencing a “real holiday’ is in any way a good idea. Reign Edwards is energetic and fun and most important pretty believable.  While not a bad kid by any stretch she plays Cody as a child of the new generation and as a result she thinks all of these older traditions are pretty whack (mostly because they are). She learns to embrace that whackness by the end of the episode which is both awesome and cathartic.

The last thirty minutes of the movie commits to being as strange as humanly possible. There are slower moments to the first and second act but the third act makes up for it with a breakneck speed that is full of blood and gore.  The axes come out as do the branding irons as more and more puritans take over the house. Our family is a mixed-race family and there is no getting around the comparisons that can be made about how our villains invaded someone else’s space and eventually tried to make it their own. It’s more or less an authentic colonizing experience. Except this time we have a hero who is armed with all the entitlement of a suburban life and the attitude of millenial. Cody does not give a shit. She will not be respectful, and she sure as hell thinks that your traditions are as screwed up as the rest of us should think they are. It’s the antidote for nostalgia and I totally dug it. 

This episode really works for me as the ultimate embodiment of “Okay Boomer”. Sure it’s nice to pretend things were great back in the day, but news flash they weren’t. Our heritage is something to value when we can but something to reckon with when we can’t. Maybe just maybe England was right for criticizing the religious zealotry that our forefathers and mothers practiced. If you want to churn your own butter, go for it but be prepared for someone to call you old or antiquated. If your response is “back in the day….” maybe you are missing the point. 

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  1. Pingback: {TV Review} Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work - Signal Horizon Magazine

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