Review by Sean Boelman
Centered around one of the most obscure holidays tackled by Hulu’s Into the Dark series yet, Pet Appreciation Week, the June “episode” Good Boy is also one of the most entertaining entries yet. Like a devilish mix of Cujo and Gremlins, this horror deconstruction of the dog movie is somehow both fun and thoughtful.
The film follows a journalist who, after a round of layoffs at her publication, decides to adopt an emotional support animal, only to discover that he may be a bit too good at his job, viciously killing anyone who adds extra stress to her life. It’s just as insane as it sounds, and it works a lot as a killer metaphor for the dangers of poor stress management.
What is most surprising about the film is that, beneath all of the wacky horror-comedy fun, there is some legitimate substance here. Although a Me Too storyline feels underdeveloped, the rest of the film does a very good job of handling the topics it addresses, particularly when the film tackles issues of mental health.
Part of what makes the film connect so well is its excellent character development. Maggie is a very likable protagonist and her arc, while predictable, is super compelling. The relationship she has with her dog serves as a wonderful center to the film. Even the obligatory romantic subplot is really effective at adding to the film’s characterization and overall message.
Of course, some of the credit has to be given to the enormously talented Judy Greer, who has finally gotten a role worthy of her skills. Her foundations in comedy serve the character well, but it’s obvious that she has the potential to be a great horror star for this generation. Her performance here is zany in all the right ways.
And yet, despite the clearly humorous nature of the film (the absurd premise should say it all), there are some shockingly intense moments to be found here. In small bursts, it’s extremely brutal, which is all the more surprising (and refreshing) given the typically tamer stuff that Blumhouse produces.
On a technical level, the film looks significantly better than a majority of the theatrically-released horror films that are released. There’s a quirky visual style here, the colorful backgrounds of the shots contrasted starkly with the darkly gory kills. The special effects even look pretty great, setting this as one of the best entries in the series.
Thanks to a creative premise executed in a bloody and ingenious fashion, Good Boy is a thoroughly amusing cross-genre treat. Even though it seems like an unlikely candidate on paper, it’s one of the more inspired Into the Dark films yet.
Into the Dark: Good Boy streams on Hulu beginning June 12.