Blumhouse’s Into the Dark series turns a bad relationship into a mind-screwing horror story.
On Valentine’s Day, a pop singer named Valentine (Britt Baron) plays a show with her partner Julie (Anna Akara), only to find that a group of fans of pop star Trezzure (Anna Lore) are in the audience harassing her. They claim that Valentine ripped off the songs, voice, and image of Trezzure, but Valentine claims that Trezzure’s manager Royal (Benedict Samuel) was her ex-boyfriend who stole all of her songs and created Trezzure. After the show, Royal and Trezzure show up to confront Valentine, and Royal is not planning on taking “no” for an answer.
This film was the first feature written and directed by Maggie Levin and this is a hell of a first at-bat. While I have enjoyed several of the films that have come out in Into the Dark, this is immediately in the top tier. This movie basically turns the act of gaslighting into a monstrous act perpetrated by a cruel bastard, which at least a handful of people I spoke to say can be accurate in real life.
The strength of the film is the interaction between Valentine, Royal, and Trezzure. Benedict Samuel almost perfectly captures a level of sinister egotism in order to sell the premise to the extreme that the film takes it. The best part, and also the most unnerving, is how well he uses common lines from other films or that abusers frequently recite. Most of his abuse is given in flashbacks to his relationships, which appear almost the same whether it’s Valentine or Trezzure. This is magnified by the fact that Valentine and Trezzure intentionally look nearly identical. Both of them were willing to give him power over them because of his manipulations and their own fears, but he always couches his abuse in targeted language. He tells each of them that “no one will ever love [them] like [he] loves them,” something that sounds romantic until you consider it also tells them they are incapable of doing better than him. He constantly covers his threats with “unless you make me,” always putting the onus on the other party. That’s how abusers get victims to forgive them, something he explicitly gets his victims to do in this.
I don’t want to go into the whole episode, but let me tell you that it is well paced and captivating. I really recommend this film if you like horror. The cinematography is more akin to a rock video at times, but since some of the cuts are literally to pop performances, that works. Give it a shot sometime.
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