Judy Greer’s perpetual co-star standing is a long-time Hollywood meme. (She’s in on the joke, too: she cheekily titled her memoir I Don’t Know What You Know Me From.) From her breakout function because the scheming assistant with a penchant for flashing in Arrested Development to a run of taking part in the main woman’s greatest good friend in mid-2000s rom-coms (13 Going on 30, 27 Dresses) to small roles in intellectual movies (The Descendants, Adaptation) and big-budget franchises (Jurassic World) alike, Greer has at all times been an underutilized gem of an actor.
Good Boy, the most recent standalone function movie in Hulu’s Blumhouse horror anthology sequence Into the Dark, lastly provides Judy Greer an opportunity to shine all on her personal. The 44-year-old actor stars as Maggie, a single, lately unemployed reporter (her newsroom goes digital and converts her to an “independent contractor”) who simply can’t appear to catch a break. Her boss (Steve Guttenberg) recommends an emotional help animal to handle her nervousness, and she or he adopts a candy terrier combine, Reuben, with perky ears and a black spot over one eye. It’s love at first sight for Maggie, and she or he rapidly goes full Dog Mom, dressing Reuben up in pajamas that match hers and shopping for him buckets of toys. But quickly, Reuben begins attacking folks — particularly, people who find themselves inflicting Maggie stress — with a power and viciousness that doesn’t appear doable from such a tiny animal.
One of Greer’s strengths as an actress is a cheerful relatability, typically hiding a deep melancholy slightly below the floor. That nice-lady-next-door attraction is on full show in Good Boy, particularly as Maggie struggles to maintain it collectively whereas Reuben’s physique depend rises. Her believably nutty efficiency (with an help from some cute canine motion) makes Good Boy the very best Into the Dark movie but, serving to it overcome the sequence’ constant flaw: each episode feels prefer it’s 30 to 40 minutes too lengthy.
Blumhouse’s anthology has been operating on Hulu since October 2018, placing out a movie each month beneath the Into the Dark banner. Each “episode” is a self-contained story that includes a distinct solid and artistic staff, although Blumhouse founder Jason Blum serves as govt producer on each movie. Into the Dark’s gimmick is that every entry is tied to a vacation; Halloween is a no brainer, after all, however Christmas, Thanksgiving, April Fool’s Day, and Father-Daughter Day all boast their very own episodes as properly. (Good Boy is tied to June’s Pet Appreciation Week.)
With runaway successes like Get Out and Paranormal Activity beneath its belt, the Blumhouse brand has come to suggest a possible sleeper hit. But the Blumhouse mannequin — giving filmmakers full inventive management in trade for a decent, small funds — means the studio simply as typically releases sloppy, half-baked options that probably might have been improved with more cash for reshoots and a greater edit. (See: Ouija, Truth or Dare, The Lazarus Effect.)
Into the Dark is following the identical mannequin, with even smaller budgets and fewer skilled filmmakers. Many of the inventive groups behind Into the Dark episodes beforehand labored on horror shorts or restricted releases, and it appears as if the sequence provides a chance for writers and administrators who’ve caught Jason Blum’s eye, however haven’t but earned the shot at making a theatrical movie.
The first episode of Into the Dark, The Body, was actually based mostly on a brief movie of the identical title, by which an expert hitman, Wilkes (Tom Bateman), makes use of the quilt of Halloween to move the physique of his sufferer in plain sight, letting passersby assume it’s part of his costume. The idea is attention-grabbing, however the story rapidly deflates when stretched to a measly 82 minutes. The overwrought dialogue, as Wilkes waxes poetic about his worldview, and the unconvincing romantic subplot really feel extra like time-fillers than a real exploration of the character.
Most episodes of Into The Dark barely hit the 90-minute mark, however really feel three hours lengthy as a result of the plot falls aside round act three. Like The Body (and Blumhouse movies on the whole), most episodes have intriguing loglines. The Valentine’s Day-themed Down, for instance, teases, “A pair of office workers get trapped in an elevator over a long Valentine’s Day weekend, but what at first promises to be a romantic connection turns dangerous and horrifying.” They Come Knocking, a Father’s Day episode, tackles the urban legend of the black-eyed children. Those premises sound like loads of enjoyable, as do many different Into the Dark titles, however there’s simply not sufficient meat on the story bone to justify a feature-length runtime.
It’s a disgrace, since there’s actually a marketplace for a unusual, low-budget horror anthology. Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story is properly previous its prime. Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot struggles to reside as much as the burden of its iconic predecessor. Greg Nicotero’s Creepshow attracts wonderful critiques, nevertheless it’s on the streaming service Shudder, which is a distinct segment platform primarily populated by hardcore horror followers. Into the Dark has loads of potential to turn out to be the trendy high-concept-low-scare horror sequence á la The Twilight Zone, however the episodes are simply too dang lengthy.
Through the sheer energy of Judy Greer’s charisma, Good Boy overcomes the problems plaguing Into the Dark. It’s not that the dialogue is extra sturdy, or the story extra totally shaped. Good Boy has loads of filler that would simply be trimmed to suit an hourlong format. But Greer is so enjoyable to look at, with an uncanny capability to make boring dialogue shine, that it doesn’t drag the best way most Into the Dark episodes do.
So Blumhouse mainly has two choices to enhance Into the Dark and assist it reside as much as its full potential: both minimize the feature-length format and keep on with hourlong episodes like its fashionable contemporaries, or solid Judy Greer because the lead in each entry to any extent further. It’s what she deserves.
Into the Dark: Good Boy is streaming on Hulu now.
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