I believe this is my first foray into Into the Dark on Hulu, the Blumhouse conception aimed to please those who run out to see any half-assed horror flick in theaters by producing these bite-sized, holiday themed options that are available right at home. I second-guess myself because there are so many now that it’s hard to keep track of what I may have turned on one random night before passing out in my Beefaroni. Into the Dark classifies itself as a TV anthology series, but I hate to break it to ya: when your “episodes” are all feature-lengths (80mins or above), are self-contained with completely different casts, and there are monthly gaps between releases, then they are movies not shows.
Getting back to the pick of the litter, Good Boy is a comedy-horror planned to coincide with Pet Appreciation Week. It stars the ever-wonderful Judy Greer (Halloween, Archer) as Maggie, a sad middle-aged single woman who feels she is running out of time to start a family. Her job as a writer for the local paper falls through, so she adopts an emotional support dog to help keep her head above water fill her childless void. Enter Reuben, the cutest serial killer you could have dreamed off. As Maggie navigates the older tier of the Millennial dating scene, she struggles to keep her vengeful dog on a short leash.
Good Boy starts off by reeling you in with Reuben’s adorableness, but his shtick gets old fast. Every kill save for the ending shows the carnivorous canine making a move, then the camera cuts to something else. When it comes back it’s just the normal dog sitting there covered in blood with a “me so sawwy” look on his snout. The only clues as to what transpires when his vicious side comes out are in the off-screen sound effects, which is a lame cop-out to exploit time and again, especially for an R-rated (sorry, TV-MA) piece. This movie needs more than the 2-frame snapshot provided of Reuben in monster form, whether they make him look wacky or sincerely frightening. Get used to this image because it’s all you get:
The tone of Good Boy swings like a pendulum. At first, you feel bad for Maggie as she goes through a rough point in her life. Then you’re expected to laugh when she loses all sympathy for everyone at the turn of a heel. Goofy dog antics or serious artificial insemination inquiries, suicidal colleagues and rapey first dates or the innocent friend’s nose being snacked on and (nose pun intended) nosey landladies barging into apartments sniffing out rent.
This flick would have been much more effective if it picked a lane and stuck with it. In my opinion, the more enticing lane being the turmoil of deciding to leave Reuben behind or go on the run with him. In other words, a more stressful, darker comedy with weight. Some scarce chuckles don’t make up for a lack of thrills on the horror side of things, making Good Boy a mangy mutt better passed over at the dog pound, unless you are one of those people who can’t resist anything involving precious pups.
2 reviewers refusing to be persuaded by a lovable dog out of 5
BONUS REVIEW (MM 2018)
The Forest is Natalie Dormer’s first big lead role after her rising to popularity from Game of Thrones. It went poorly, as these things often do, though it’s not entirely her fault. The movie is a traditional perspective ripoff of The Blair Witch Project mixed with The Grudge overtones. There are no standout performances and there isn’t anything remotely scary to fall back on. The Forest is set in the Japanese suicide forest (Aokigahara), and while it doesn’t directly make light of the very real epidemic, its angle of the culture in general comes off as passively insensitive. It would be one thing if The Forest was commendable in any aspect, but these haunted trees should stand undisturbed.
1 meatball Logan Paul zinger out of 5
BONUS REVIEW (MM 2019)
FINAL DESTINATION 5
The Final Destination series is perfect for anyone who enjoys Saw films but wants to turn their brain off and watch something more lighthearted. Final Destination 5 has bad visual effects but you don’t care because the death sequences are so easy to take in. They are elaborate, but not in that Saw kind of way. The FD saga has been hit-or-miss for me. I remember seeing the trailer for FD5 on TV and thinking, “How many of these are they gonna make?” but also, “Wow, that gymnast part really makes me wince!” Sure, the D-list actors’ attempts to be dramatic are unruly (to be kind), but Final Destination 5 is a fun little thrill ride. I might even go as far as saying it’s the best installment since the first one, especially with how the third act unfolds.
3 inexplicably overpowered laser eye surgery apparatuses out of 5