'Into The Dark' Brings Some Bite Back To Hulu's Horror Series With 'Blood Moon'

There's no luck of the Irish this March from Into The Dark, since Emma Tammi's second directorial invitation is about shapeshifter folklore—St. Patrick's Day was last year's edition. With season 2 wrapping its slate, Hulu's holiday horror anthology avoids any serious double-dipping by ignoring inebriated March madness for a second thematic instance. Adam Mason's screenplay is more in line with last May's Delivered (also Tammi), once again jeopardizing a mother-child relationship that's consciously more heartfelt than other months doused in gore, humor, or approaches less dramatically dire. It's Tammi's wheelhouse dating back to The Wind, so why deviate? After a string of franchise lows, Blood Moon brings a little bite back into Blumhouse's monthly program.Our introduction to Esme (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and son Luna (Yonas Kibreab) is a blood-stained bedroom, Esme with a shotgun, and an animal carrier. It's a flashback, we learn, as Esme and now ten-year-old Luna drive into another nameless town with non-descript rural charms, where they can live in peace. We immediately get the sense that Esme desires to keep Luna separated from society, given his homeschooling, one circled day per month on the calendar he's forced under lockdown, and the "lion-sturdy" cage Esme erects in her basement. Pretty damning evidence that Luna is more than just your average, rebellious almost-teen. What Esme does is for her family's benefit—or those put in danger when the lunar cycle reaches its climax.Since Blood Moon is very obviously about a changeling child, it's enough to confirm that ideas about werewolves or animorphs are in the correct ballpark. It's no spoiler; Esme wastes zero time engaging with the local hardware store owner (played by Marco Rodriguez) because she requires supplies for a "chicken coop." That's not to say Blood Moon is Tyler MacIntyre's Good Boy redone because Tammi's approach remains more interested in exploring both the tenderness of monstrous bonds and bloodline devotion at stake. It isn't an outright unleashing of a pint-sized beast as much as it's this guardian arc about maternal instincts and parental sacrifices.Given COVID-19 production safeguards, Blood Moon doesn't boast an impressive body count or massacres—not that previous Into The Dark productions benefit from massive set pieces. I say this to properly emphasize how the creature dynamic isn't particularly ravenous. Still, Tammi finds intrigue despite a tumbleweed community where Esme can only interact with so many characters at a time. Whether that's warning her watering hole boss Sam (Joshua Dov) about minding his hands or she'll file a sexual harassment lawsuit, or outright threatening to slit Sheriff Barlow Townes' (Gareth Williams) throat should his unwanted advances continue. Esme's traits are barbed, defensive, and on-edge with purpose, as Megalyn Echikunwoke projects a survival instinct that's worth a few direct hits when it comes to dialogue and imposed intensity in more character-driven scenes.So becomes Blood Moon, a thriller that's not exquisitely thrilling but successful in telling Esme's narrative from a place of outsider fears and internal unknowns. It's not particularly "festive" in terms of Into The Dark's whole horror anthology concept, yet connections to nature and mysticism aren't unwelcome. As Tammi once accentuated pioneer isolation in The Wind, Blood Moon feels like a modern counterpart with an animalistic bend where terror lurks within—even worse, within something precious and innocent. Don't expect to behold An American Werewolf In London or WolfCop effects—although that doesn't seem to matter given how Esme and Luna's bond is the driving force behind Tammi's vision and Mason's script.Blood Moon is a more caged approach to transformation horror cinema, especially given on-set restrictions concerning characters per scene, behind-the-lens limits, and more. Emma Tammi could only use the "tools" available—a pitstop hideaway that's barely inhabited, tempered payoffs, minimal escalation—but Megalyn Echikunwoke and Yonas Kibreab navigate within the confines of interrupted youth, battle-scarred mothers, and the ultimate horror of what society would do if their secret were to be exposed. It's nothing ferociously forthcoming or reinventive, yet in comparison to other Into The Dark segments, Blood Moon develops intrigue even if adrenaline doesn't surge. A rare case where lacking frights serve a more impactful tale of mommy-kiddo hardships, despite a few chewed-up corpses still making their appearance./Film Rating: 6 out of 10