The Christmas episode of Hulu’s Into the Dark is out. We loved the thanksgiving entry. Pilgrim is big, and weird, and full of turkey legs and butter churning. It was great. The Christmas episode is a bit of a let down. It doesn’t quite have the confidence that Pilgrim has but certainly checks all of the boxes for a horror movie. ‘A Nasty Piece of Work’ works hard to be mean and if that is the intended result than it was a total success. this episode was one mean son of a bitch.
A Nasty Piece of Work really functions like an Anti-Hallmark movie. If you are sick of the sanguine stories of women publicists who comes back to Piney Bluff to help sell their families Christmas tree farm only to fall in love with a local firefighter, than this will be your jam. Imagine if the bad guys win in a hallmark movie. Worse yet imagine if that nice guy firefighter becomes a cutthroat money grubber who burns down our heroines Christmas tree farm for the insurance money. That is more the speed of a ‘Nasty Piece of Work’. Here at our house its Hallmark Channel 24/7 so I was ready to light the match and watch the whole place burn to the ground starting with that friggin Christmas tree farm. Get your matches here we go.
The story is very simple. Hulu describes it as ” A mid-level corporate employee finds out he’s not getting the Christmas bonus he was expecting, but his boss invites him to earn a promotion by beating his professional rival in a violent competition.” I might add that as the night plays out the games change and our ‘hero” must make choices he is not all that happy to be making. But he is eager to please so he makes them…pretty much.
In what feels like a nod to modern movies like Ready or Not, or more classical horror tales like The Most Dangerous Game, A Nasty Piece of Work is consumed with the competition element of humanity. In that way the story is pretty pedestrian. Bad guy vs. Good guy. Will good guy turn into bad guy? Will he abandon his principals to get ahead? In that way the episode felt a little tiresome. It doesn’t have a ton of new stuff to say about the subject matter and while it had some decent twists and turns I wanted a much bigger swing like the November entry. That is not to say its boring. The contrary really. I was entertained the entire time. It just felt very traditional…like late stage capitalism.
Everyone in this feature has a doe-eyed earnestness that only accentuates how pretty they all are. When Angela Sarafyan, from West World fame, plays the quiet, demure, typical wife it tells you something about the rest of the cast.. They are all easy to look at. Including Julian Sands who plays the Boss with such disdain for humanity and the people around him you are rooting for him to die from minute one (maybe that’s the point). Its almost like he is channeling the arrogance of an all powerful Warlock…or something. He has aged pretty freaking well, even if he seems to be more evil Craig T Nelson than servant of the devil nowadays.
The episode is fine. It kept me interested and offered some basic if not revelatory commentary about Christmas, corporate lifestyles, and money. If you are looking to escape from Piney Bluff for a moment you could do far worse. Check out A Nasty Piece of Work today on Hulu.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.