June 13, 2020 Into the Dark: Good Boy (Movie Review)
Did you know that June 7th through 13th was Pet Appreciation Week in the US? Hulu’s monthly Horror anthology series Into the Dark sure did, and to celebrate, the show dropped it’s latest film Good Boy on its streaming service Friday, June 12th. Starring Judy Greer (Halloween 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp 2018) with a supporting cast of McKinley Freeman (End of Watch 2012, Pump series), Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy 1984, Cocoon 1985), Ellen Wong (Dark Matter series, GLOW series), and Elise Neal (Money Talks 1997, Hustle & Flow 2005), Good Boy gives new meaning to the term “emotional support animal,” as adorable pup Reuben handles his new mom’s stress in a unique way: murder.
Blumhouse production’s Into the Dark has tackled a myriad of subjects since it began in 2018. For those unfamiliar, each episode runs about 90 minutes and features a standalone story. All episodes spotlight a different director and cast—essentially a feature length film—and revolve around a specific holiday theme. Think of it as Hulu’s campier answer to Black Mirror. Of course, each episode is packed with the gratuitous gore and Psychological Thriller elements the studio is famous for. For Pet Appreciation Week, Director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls 2017) and Writers Aaron and Will Eisenberg (3Below: Tales of Arcadia series) tackle monster movie trope and bring it into 2020 in the form of a not-so-sweet little pooch expertly played by Chico the Dog.
When Maggie, a Wisconsin-born journalist living in and writing about the less-glamorous Los Angeles-adjacent city of Reseda, is discouraged after a string of bad dates, she decides to take matters into her own hands and see a fertility specialist about having children on her own. When things go south at her small-time publication, her boss suggests that she look into an emotional support animal to alleviate her stress. Enter angelic Reuben, a tiny mutt who quickly becomes the love of Maggie’s life. Reuben does more than just relieve stress…he removes it entirely. But when Maggie finally finds herself the seemingly perfect guy in Detective Nate (Freeman), will she choose him, or her dog?
It is impossible not to root for Reuben as he systemically eliminates each and every person causing stress in Maggie’s life. He’s just so dang cute, even when covered in blood. But while there is plenty of gratuitous gore to be had, what the episode is lacking is really seeing Reuben’s monster form unleashed (pun intended). Only small hints are given as to what Reuben truly is or looks like when he “provides support,” but it would have been cool to get a bit more mileage out of what seemed like an awesome puppet.
Maggie’s motives, on the other hand, are a bit more questionable. The whole idea of a baby crazy older woman’s slow descent into madness, especially in a piece written and directed by men, is pretty tiresome in this day and age, but the team behind Good Boy lean heavily into more tropes than just that. Sure, the episode is fun and campy, but a more nuanced approach to the main character could have made this one a bit more unique.
Even so, Greer is excellent in the role. You may have seen her in various secondary or tertiary roles in the past, but here she proves that she can make a killer lead. While a bit tropey, audiences will have no problem believing that Maggie would go to extreme lengths to protect sweet little Reuben’s love for a bloody mauling.
Overall, Good Boy is another enjoyable installment in the Into the Dark series. At times both laugh-out-loud funny and cover-your-eyes gory, MacIntyre and his team deliver a decently good time with Good Boy. Be on the lookout for a new episode next month, just in time for Independence Day! For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Good Boy 3.5 out of 5 stars.