Hulu's 'Into The Dark' Puts A Dark Twist On April Fools' Day With 'I'm Just F*cking With You'

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)Those (not so secret sociopaths) who cite "April Fools" as their favorite holiday are in for a treat thanks to Into The Dark's April offering I'm Just F*cking With You. Director Adam Mason blends serial killings with "practical jokes" and creates Hayes MacArthur's Chester Conklin – a sleazy motel manager/bartender/Hawaiian shirt enthusiast with a demented funnybone. He may be one of the series' most memorable villains yet, but I'm Just F*cking With You is a one-note gag drawn out with elongated delivery. Solid novelty, even if a little more workshopping would have helped.Keir O'Donnell stars as Larry, a neat-freak loner who's traveling to attend an ex-lover's wedding. Little does anyone know, Larry also has an online alter-ego: ProgrammingFlaw3489. In person he's timid, anti-social, an outcast. Online he posts offensively insulting troll comments from the deepest reaches of his black heart. Larry arrives at Pink Motel and Lounge, where Chester (Hayes MacArthur) tends bar and cracks him a Miller Lite. The weary traveler is tired and wants to check in, awaiting his sister Rachel's (Jessica McNamee) arrival, but Chester prolongs their interaction by messing with Larry. So begins a "hilarious" night of pranks, zingers, and bloody murder punctuated by Chester's catchphrase – "I'm just f***ing with you!"The name of Mason and MacArthur's game is deception, as we're frequently asked to question if Chester could be capable of something more sinister than bad-faith puns. Larry's the perfect target for Chester – quietly judgemental, rigid in stature, carries bottles of spray-on cleaner around – and he's pushed to the brink. Chester's jests start innocent enough, like holding Larry's bathroom door closed only to release last minute so Larry goes tumbling to the floor. Then Chester starts disrespecting personal space, cinematography cuts to hidden camera feeds, and Larry's victimization takes a turn beyond verbal wordplay. MacArthur this Tommy Bahama luau king whose personality never breaks a grin in an increasingly unsettling manner.Mason's directed tone keeps horrors comedic and Chester a devil's jester. I'm Just F*cking With You's climax is scored by Toploader's "Dancing In The Moonlight" while Chester's "punchlines" are always signaled by an eagle's screech. Colorization is that of a red-light district glow given the luminous Pink Motel sign blasting neons amidst bright sunny depravity that reminds of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. No scares, some danger, and Mason relies on midnight-merciless comedy and O'Donnell's performative responses to MacArthur's good-time maniac. This is where the segment's footing stumbles a bit, as Larry endures Chester's antics for a bit too long before actually reaching any hunter/killer scenario in full. Extended like most Into The Dark entries if we're honest (which have all outstayed their 80+ minute welcome to some degree).As a commentary on internet troll culture, I'm Just F*cking With You cuts to the heart of someone so enthusiastically bitter. The irony in Larry not being able to take a joke is highlighted by his weaponized vitriol as an anonymous poster. He can dish it, but not take it. Enter Chester's repeated usage of the segment's titular response, because this is all just a gaffe – right? Incorrect. Words have consequences, consequences require action, and Larry's hateful hobby is put on blast in a way that threatens harm unto more than just "P-flaw" once Rachel appears. Not exactly the richest commentary on thematic intent, but O'Donnell's drug-induced admission monologue exposes online abusers for the true cowards they are while attempting to garner *some* empathy for a main character we shouldn't applaud (it's about who Larry hurts, not Larry himself).Into The Dark hasn't featured a standout antagonist yet, which makes Hayes MacArthur's Chester their first. Curly hair doilies and aviator sunglasses tear him from 70s beach shindigs, evoking this party monster who's always looking for a good time. MacArthur leans heavily into class clown immaturity, which becomes more sinister as his "pranks" take nastier turns. One minute he's shaking Mai Tais poolside, the next he's dancing shirtless around what's essentially a makeshift graveyard. McNamee isn't given much work except to calm O'Donnell in choice moments, tethering him at Pink Motel, but MacArthur does enough psychotic heavy lifting to ensure I'm Just F*cking With You stays morbidly humorous. Some l choice quotations thrown in for effect.As Larry's night progresses from annoying to shady to deadly, I'm Just F*cking With You revels in turning technology's trashiest habits into a true crime nightmare. Does it flawlessly thrill in this regard? No. Does it make you think anything more profound about users such as "ProgrammingFlaw3489?" Not really. What it does put forth is character acting we haven't yet been treated to by Into The Dark standards, while honestly f***ing with us for a few prime moments of what *might* happen if a cut-rate comedian snapped overnight. That and who doesn't like watching a troll get ceremoniously roasted?/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10