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Into the Dark – Season 2, Episode 2: “Pilgrim” TV Episode Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Hulu | Blumhouse

Into The Dark S02 E02 Pilgrim Large

Directed by Marcus Dunstan
Written by Noah Feinberg, Marcus Dunstan, and Patrick Melton
2019, 90 minutes, Not Rated
Released on November 1st, 2019

Starring:
Reign Edwards as Cody
Kerr Smith as Shane
Courtney Henggeler as Anna
Antonio Raul Corbo as Tate
Peter Giles as Ethan
Elyse Levesque as Patience
Taj Speights as Finn

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Review:

While I have yet to catch every film in Hulu’s Into the Dark series, I have definitely become a big fan. The concept of a feature-length episode for every month of the year, centered on the major holiday/event offered up by the calendar, is a fantastic one. Not every month gives a big reason to celebrate, so some are a bit of a stretch – despite being quite excellent, I’m not sure what a purity retreat has to do with the month of September (Pure).

When you get to a month with a legitimate holiday, the hope is that you get the big guns. November gives us Thanksgiving, the American tradition of family gathering and being grateful for what we have. It’s a holiday that doesn’t boast a lot of horror fare, with the notable exceptions of the unbelievably cheesy Blood Rage, the criminally underrated The Stepfather, and the devastatingly average Home Sweet Home. So, do we finally have a turkey day classic to add to the slim pantheon?

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Pilgrim is the story of a modern, blended family. Cody (Reign Edwards; Hell Fest) is on the verge of adulthood and freedom from a life with a stepmother (Courtney Henggeler; Cobra Kai) she can’t stand, though she loves her father (Kerr Smith; Final Destination) and half-brother (Antonio Raul Corbo; Brooklyn Nine-Nine) very much. Her family is well-to-do and has everything they could ever want; you know because Dad can’t stop checking the foreign markets on his tablet while Anna hosts the community H.O.A. meetings. It’s picture perfect, but everyone is totally disconnected. Mom’s over-the-top (and frankly silly) idea is to pay a group of “reenactors” to join them for the big day and recreate the traditional American Thanksgiving. Days before, however, the pilgrims arrive early to make preparations. Ethan (Peter Giles; The Life and Times of Tim) and Patience (Elyse Levesque; Ready or Not) are straight off the Mayflower, and they never break character…ever…for any reason. Cody rebels, but her parents persist. Soon enough, though, more pilgrims arrive, and the family begins to lose control of the situation. The feast arrives and the family soon learns what gratitude really is in the darkest and nastiest way possible.

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Simply put, Pilgrim caught me by surprise and is one of the strongest entries in the series to date (though not for the same reasons as the series’ high-water mark, Gigi Guerrero’s stellar Culture Shock). There’s a quality to Pilgrim that’s almost bait-and-switch (without the negative connotation associated with that term). The tone is never too serious, but for almost the first hour it’s a bit of a slow burn of weirdness and vague menace. At the edges of your periphery you can see that things aren’t quite right, but whether Ethan and Patience are truly dangerous or just crazy is up for debate. Then the worm turns…

Holy shit does that little bastard turn in a gloriously Grand Guignol way! I was genuinely unprepared for the amount of vomitous gore and gleeful violence that fills the last half an hour. The zaniness of the tone is cranked up to eleven, from the disorienting camera work to the wonky music. Pilgrim becomes a funhouse of fantastically poor taste and family bonding through survival violence. “Did we just murder as a family?” will go down as one of the holiday’s great lines!

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The message isn’t lost, either. We are an amazingly disconnected society, and the pilgrims are trying to get people to reconnect at all costs. Sure, it’s not a recommended method of bringing the family together, but the end result is still a well-learned lesson of what’s important in life (hint: It’s not the foreign markets!). You can never complain about getting a good dose of the classic “Be careful what you wish for” thrown in for good measure in response to Cody’s spiteful wish upon the wishbone for everything to go wrong. Kids and their damn wishes!

So, look skyward and offer a prayer of thanks and gratitude for a bonafide Thanksgiving horror classic that offers a shockingly gory feast that you should make a part of the regular menu. I know my family would appreciate this one. We’re kind of fucked up like that.

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Grades:

Episode: Fourstars Into The Dark S02 E02 Pilgrim Small
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About The Author
Stuart Monroe
Staff Writer
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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