Anthology series and films are an ever-so-popular gimmick to allow creators to constantly change the stories they’re bringing to our screens. From true crime to fictional horror, there is really no shortage of plot-switching titles to watch (thanks Ryan Murphy). One that got by me has been Hulu’s Into the Dark, a horror series that premiered on October 5th of last year.
Produced by Jason Blum’s independent company, Blumhouse Television, one episode of the series is released each month, with a plot around a holiday within said month. During my time at SXSW, I was able to catch the premiere if its April release, I’m Just F*cking With You, inspired by April Fools Day. What I saw was an insanely charming and terrifying episode of television that definitely has me hooked on the series.
Larry (Keir O’Donnell) spends his days trolling the internet under the guise of a clever pseudonym. He’s become the butt of a lot of jokes in his life, seeing is how his girlfriend broke up with him and immediately shacked up with his own cousin – how brutal, and slightly gross. Even worse, they’re getting married and he has to deal with all the social media gloating. He can choose to either be the laughing stock of the wedding and not show up. Or he can show up and still be the laughing stock, but at least try to look unbothered by it all.
On his way for the wedding weekend, he stops for the night at a kitschy motel, his sister (Jessica McNamee) meeting him later in the evening. He meets Chester (Hayes MacArthur), a motel employee who cracks a couple obnoxious jokes at the already frustrated Larry. He doesn’t have time to deal with Chester’s immature style, and quickly shuts himself into his room for the night. However, that doesn’t stop Chester from continuing to make Larry the punchline. As Larry’s patience for the pranks lessen, his realization that Chester’s antics are anything but harmless.
I’m Just F*cking With You is such a wild episode that truly fucks with you. Written by Gregg Zehentner & Scott Barkan and directed by Adam Mason, this episode delivers one of the most charismatic villains I’ve seen on screen. MacArthur exudes a likability, even when his character is being a bit of a dick, you can’t help but get why people fall for him. He’s the guy at the party who everyone wants to be around – he’s the fun, wacky one. Which is what makes him even more terrifying.
It’s such a unique plot with a great set of characters, in a vibrant neon setting – think if Psycho was set in Palm Springs. While I can’t comment on the rest of the series, if this episode proves anything, it’s that it houses original, mind-bending creators who aren’t afraid to push a few buttons.