Early in October, Hulu premiered the first of 12 horror films in partnership with Blumhouse Television with Into the Dark: The Body. The concept of the Into the Dark anthology series of films is simple and enticing: deliver a new themed horror movie every month, starting with The Body, a hitman/slasher film mashup set in Los Angeles on Halloween. The result is a dark, often morbidly funny take on the usual killer-for-hire stories crossed with the familiar relentless stalking of a group of unwitting victims — this time a cluster of Halloween partygoers who mistake a hitman’s work attire and the actual dead body he’s dragging around for an elaborate costume — like the teens from Halloween or Friday the 13th. Their mistake proves deadly.
Though it unfolds over the course of a single evening, The Body includes a variety of locations, each with its own unique style, which further heightens the slightly heightened world of the film. Though it takes place in Los Angeles, The Body isn’t shy about leaning into its Halloween trappings, delivering a crazy loft party, a dingy bar, and an ominous cemetery to round things out, and the series’ production designer recently discussed what goes into realizing such a world.
Production designer Cecil Gentry (check out his website here) talked about creating the look and feel of The Body with Screen Rant, saying one of the ideas of this first Into the Dark film was to “celebrate” Los Angeles, letting the city play itself, so to speak, while also playing up the Halloween vibe:
“In terms of geography and location… we have a saying, we ‘play it as it lays.’ So Los Angeles is where we are. There's nothing to hide from, there's nothing to avoid or to deliberately try and frame out. We allow Los Angeles to be a character and to shine brightly. We're not ducking palm trees. I've worked on projects where we want to be anywhere USA, so we avoid things like palm trees or street signs or anything that is particularly LA. So that part of it for this project was very easy. We were downtown LA. We let LA shine. We didn't shy away from the fact that we were in Los Angeles; we celebrated it.
In terms of Halloween that can be difficult when you're trying to portray a season. Decorating for things that are out of season can be a bit challenging because sometimes it may be hard to find. But we're in Los Angeles which is the film capital of the world, so all of the prop houses and you can find anything you need.”
Gentry also offered some details on the unique look of the loft where the huge Halloween party takes place. He discussed building the escape room that doubles as Jack’s (Ray Santiago) office, as well as the room’s look, which included bricks similar to those in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, the house made famous in part by its appearance in Blade Runner.
“Jack's workspace in his loft was an area, a secret space where he housed props — because he's a special effects guy — so it was kind of his office/private space within the loft, and yes we did reference a lot of popular culture… it was one of my favorite sets. It had a secret door and I embellished a lot of things like the button that would automatically unlock the door. As far as the Ennis House... there's a certain brick that Frank Lloyd Wright used for that house, so that happened to be there and I just went with it and celebrated it and allowed the camera to breathe and live within the environment. It was an empty space and my team brought everything in.”
As for what fans of Into the Dark can look forward to in the months to come, Gentry offered a few details, suggesting February’s episode will be wildly different from The Body, which should help keep things fresh as the anthology moves along.
“This particular episode was location driven, which was great. There were a few constructed signs and walls but for the most part this episode was location driven. I do have an episode coming out… it’s a Valentine's Day episode that takes place within an elevator and there's [a stunt that involves] crashing through the ceiling — I don't want to give too much of it away but I had to ultimately build two separate [elevator] halves and a shaft. I don't want to take any emphasis off The Body but there are instances where they entire thing will be construction. I'm currently working on an episode that is a combination of the two. We've got locations, but the script also calls for something that we really couldn't do in the real world.”
In all, Into the Dark made the right choice beginning its run in October. The Halloween-themed episode delivered a solid template for what’s to come and with Gentry on board for the other installments, the series should make for a fun way for Hulu subscribers to kick off each new month.
Into the Dark: Flesh & Blood premieres Friday, November 2 on Hulu.