'Into the Dark: Delivered' Review: An ironic, violent slasher evaluates what separates mothers from monsters
When a pregnant woman is kidnapped by a murderous psychopath for her twisted desires, it leads to a fight of who's the better mother
Spoilers for 'Into the Dark: Delivered'
Pregnancies can be difficult, but clearly there are worse things to be. Like shackles, and chains, and having your baby daddy killed in the middle of nowhere. After desperate mothers cloning humans to stop their son from indulging in his serial killing sprees, this year 'Into the Dark' pays homage to all mothers with its Mothers' Day focused May installment by highlight the psychotic levels an infertile woman can go to just to become a mother.
For an anthology horror that kicked off as more 'Black Mirror' than a stereotypical slasher, the Hulu series from Blumhouse has significantly dipped in terms of its unpredictability. The twists are done and dusted with the cat in the plot being the only interesting thing around is the antagonist's cat. But give that, what this installment excels at is the desperate need for an infertile woman to feel the magic of pregnancy and childbirth - and in all of that, Tina Majorino excels at being a twisted psychopath.
Majorino's Jenny is your quintessential stalker; she follows her prey closely before luring them in under the pretext of homely dinners. These are mostly vulnerable, naive heavily pregnant mothers with trouble moving around swiftly. So Jenny gets close to them through the couple's pregnancy yoga classes after months or maybe weeks of tracking them closely and making little notes about their instincts and whereabouts.
In a way, Jenny is like a female Joe Goldberg from the Netflix sensation 'You', but instead of wanting to be loved, she just wants to be a mom. Just like Joe, she doesn't care who gets in the way of her and her object of desire, and she doesn't mind taking them out be it with injections or axes and sheers if they act out.
Jenny's ways of keeping her hostage contained are also quite similar to Joe's - filled with lapses of panicked lashing out, amidst an in general kind and compassionate aura. She feeds her hostages, provides for them, and makes are they are healthy and alive. But she also makes sure nobody comes looking for them, not without fatal consequences in store. All of this is made clear when she kidnaps Valerie (Natalie Paul, who played Joe's girlfriend in You's debut season), an unsuspecting heavily pregnant woman who's having just about the hardest time as her due date draws closer.
She has a loving husband Tom whom Jenny charms with her humor at the pregnancy class, and soon the trio are friends enough for Valerie and Tom to accept Jenny's dinner invitation to her 20-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere.
Of course on the very first Jenny takes tom out with an axe after drugging Valerie through her dinner, and then begins her torture of the pregnant soon to be mother, keeping her chained and away from society, even though the prospect of someone coming to look for ger lingers. Throughout the story, there's an ongoing mystery about Valerie's 'good friend' Riley whom she has been avoiding because he is quite possibly the baby's real father.
Ironically enough it is this very Riley who becomes her only hope for an escape from this twisted psychopath.
Rivaling Paul's portrayal of the confused, somewhat hesitant pregnant woman is Majorino's menacing smiles and maniacal screams of rage spilling out through Jenny every time Valerie refuses to comply. And as far as the writing goes, it's not every day you see infertile women voluntarily subjecting themselves through labor simulations as their own revered mea culpa for not being able to get pregnant.
Jenny's backstory reveals her gritty past where her parents - equally morbid - ripped her unborn baby out of her womb and was therefore murdered by her. But no amount of kidnapping pregnant women to cut their babies out of them helps salvage Jenny's retribution when compared to Valerie's transformation as a mother who will do anything to protect her child.
Riddled in irony and violence, Emma Tammi's direction peaks in scenes with Majorino mostly; otherwise, not so much. There's a certain grip missing even in scenes where Valerie exacts her menacing revenge with wooden stakes and bloodstained nightgowns. Throughout the 80-minutes of the feature-length episode, an underlying story distinguishing mothers from monsters jumps out. And this fine line between making and breaking a life is what the Mothers' Day tribute is all about.
'Into the Dark: Delivered' premieres on Friday, May 8, only on Hulu.