Into the Dark – Season 2, Episode 1: “Uncanny Annie” TV Episode Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Hulu | Blumhouse

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Directed by Paul Davis
Written by Alan Bachelor and James Bachelor
2019, 90 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Hulu on October 4th, 2019

Adelaide Kane as Wendy
Georgie Flores as Eve
Paige McGhee as Grace
Jacques Colimon as Craig
Dylan Arnold as Michael
Evan Bittencourt as Peter
Camden Toy as The Prankster
Karlisha Hurley as Annie

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On paper, the concept of a horror-themed take on Jumanji is some strong shit. How could you not get behind that? I certainly can. I’m an avid player and Dungeon Master in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, and I own a host of funky board games like Zombicide and Pandemic. This is right up my alley. How, I ask you, could I possibly go wrong with the latest entry in Hulu’s Into the Dark series, entitled Uncanny Annie?

Unfortunately, not all games are created equal. I’ll get to that, though.

Uncanny Annie is the story of six friends getting together on Halloween to remember a friend that they lost. There’s Wendy (Adelaide Kane; The Purge) and her boyfriend, Michael (Dylan Arnold; Halloween); Eve (Georgie Flores; Dumplin’) and her ex-boyfriend, Craig (Jacques Colimon); geeky Peter (Evan Bittencourt; Ideal Home); and single friend Grace (Paige McGhee). Halloween was their late friend’s favorite holiday, and they’re getting together to have a few beers and honor his memory with some games. They settle on a game they’ve never heard of called "Uncanny Annie", and before they know it strange things are happening in the house and the outside world has completely disappeared into darkness. They’re trapped inside Annie’s game now, and they must play by the rules to win and survive the night of horror in a game where the cards change, poltergeists run loose, and you’d better be able to decipher a riddle or two!

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It’s a killer concept that’s ripe with possibility. In horror (perhaps more so than other genres), a solid premise is the initial piece that you must have in order to get your bloody little claws firmly hooked in the flesh of the viewer. It takes more than concept, however, and Uncanny Annie leans heavily on its genesis point without taking huge strides beyond it. It’s not all bad news, though.

The game structure is excellent as a storytelling device and drives the narrative at a well-paced and reasonably intense clip. The scenes of gameplay and the ensuing horror and reveal of dark secrets are where the movie really shines and you’ll have the most fun. The riddles on the cards are a little corny, but aren’t these things always a little cheesy when you get right down to it? The suspension of disbelief holds well throughout the film thanks to this.

Even with slightly canned dialogue, the performances are perfectly adequate for what Uncanny Annie is. Adelaide Kane is the strongest of the bunch by far, and carries the majority of the load. That’s not surprising, as she’s been impressing since her role as Zoey Sandlin on The Purge back in 2013. Everyone is believable and natural as college friends, and the chemistry is good.

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What Uncanny Annie isn’t, though, is one of the stronger entries in the series. Into the Dark is at its best when it has something strong to say, as is the case in Culture Shock or Pure. This one runs more along the lines of School Spirit in that it’s all about the entertainment and horror value, but comes off much lighter than that excellent slasher homage. The “big baddie” of Annie is a little clichéd with her ghostly face and freaky, crackly head and neck movements. It’s horror lite when something a little more truly demonic is required (though Karlisha Hurley does have a thoroughly awesome blank stare).

Hardened horror nuts will probably not get any major kicks out of Uncanny Annie, but we’ve all seen enough anthologies to know that they can’t all be grand slam homeruns. Sometimes you have to settle for a solid, effective single that gets credit for trying to steal second base.

That catcher has a cannon for an arm.

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Episode: 3 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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