Austin Film Festival 2019: Be Thankful or Else With Into the Dark’s Pilgrim

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Into the Dark: Pilgrim

Directed by Marcus Dunstan and written by Noah Feinberg, Dunstan, and Patrick Melton, Hulu’s Into the Darktheir monthly anthology series made in tandem with Blumhouse, is forcing viewers to get thankful or else with its Thanksgiving-themed film Pilgrim. In an attempt to remind her family of their privilege and help them bond, Anna (Courtney Henggeler) invites Pilgrim reenactors to stay with them over Thanksgiving, even convincing a family friend to join in on opening their home.

It all seems fair enough, what better way to bring together your family than asking complete strangers into your home to offer some perspective? For the Barkers, Anna is honestly doing what she can as a stepmother but sadly when a family has been broken, there are insurmountable hurdles to jump through in order to try and bond. That’s where Cody (Reign Edwards) comes in. Still holding onto the pain of her mother leaving them, Cody isn’t okay with going along with the Thanksgiving notions, calling out the problems the pilgrims caused and not just the fairytale told during the United States’ Thanksgiving holiday.

Soon, the Barker family learns that there is such a thing as too much gratitude when the “actors” refuse to break character and begin bringing in more reenactors for the feast. When the pilgrims turn against the family, you see it coming, as does Cody. That said, even in its predictability, it’s grindhouse style gore and violence make it all extremely interesting to watch as it unfolds.

Pilgrim is pulpy and fully embraces it, as you need to with a gang of people pretending to pilgrims and slip in and out of old Maine accents. Pacing-wise, the film is smooth, following Cody as she pushes back against her step-mother, discovers the nefarious intentions of the pilgrims, is gaslit by her parents, and ultimately comes together with the rest of her family to overcome the danger. But while the flow of the film is well-done, it’s really the absurdity of the pilgrims and their need for gratitude that makes Pilgrim a standout in the Into the Dark series.

From their accents to watching Patience, the female pilgrim reenactor, churn butter into blood, and of course their locking up of the Barker parents, there is so much pilgrim violence that makes the back half of the film entertaining. That said, it does take time for Pilgrim to find its footing in the beginning, taking time to establish family dynamics that could have been explained in a scene or two. Additionally, while the tension builds during the start of the reenactors’ stay, this is also a lull that feels tonally different than the balls to the wall final act of the film.

It’s also important to call out that the family’s dynamic is very real. From the youngest in the family, Tate (Antonio Raul Corbo), Cody’s half-brother, from Anna and her father (Kerr Smith) having a beautiful relationship where Cody protects him, to Cody’s relationship with Anna versus her father, all of the interactions make sense. This helps give weight to the shift family dynamic and the gratitude that comes as they fight to survive.

Into the Dark: Pilgrim

With all of that said, Pilgrim does something interesting with its tropes. While the final girl is very much the prototype, it’s the villains that switch up horror movie gender roles. While it may not be noticeable at first, in many horror movies where killers work in groups, the woman is often the one who calls the shots while the men around her provide the muscle. That isn’t the case in Pilgrim and oh, is it satisfying.

Patience, is fearsome and violent, enforcing their extreme code of gratitude both in the Ethan (Peter Giles), the head pilgrim’s presence and on her own. While the villains are all of the reenactors, Patience is the one who stands the most physical threat to the family. Additionally, she has the same almost supernatural survivability that most male slasher villains have.

Overall Pilgrim is fun, it’s gory, and it will fill you with gratitude for the partnership between Blumhouse and Hulu. Perfect for the Thanksgiving theme, this film offers up some great horror moments but more importantly there is a through-line of family and coming together even with some murders, flogging, and mystery meat thrown in.

Into the Dark: Pilgrim is streaming exclusively on Hulu.


Into the Dark: Pilgrim
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Pilgrim is fun, it’s gory, and it will fill you with gratitude for the partnership between Blumhouse and Hulu. Perfect for the Thanksgiving theme, this film offers up some great horror moments but more importantly there is a through-line of family and coming together even with some murders, flogging, and mystery meat thrown in.

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