Mother’s Day is the holiday-tie-in for Hulu’s Delivered, but it will keep viewers in a state of uncomfortable dread more than happy anticipation. That’s the effect that it’s going for, of course, and it generally succeeds.
Often, flicks under the Blumhouse Television Into the Dark banner are a little reminiscent of features that have come before. If December 2019’s A Nasty Piece of Work channels a bit of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Christmas trappings and a horror vibe, then Delivered draws on Misery and perhaps a dose of 2007’s New French Extremity flick, Inside.
Overall, Into the Dark films rarely venture into extremes or gore for their horror, but occasionally, Delivered dips a toe in pooling blood or at least violent suggestion. There’s just enough, in fact, to worry viewers it might push the envelope further. Hence that case of anticipatory creeps, if not always pure edge-of-the-seat white-knuckle dread.
Natalie Paul of The Sinner and You is expectant mother Valarie with a nigh perfect partner Tommy (Michael Cassidy), coincidentally resembling Tom Hardy. He holds her hand in yoga parenting classes and reminds her of the group’s variant greeting: Mamaste. The expectant mom’s a bit jittery about delivery and motherhood. So jittery, she has nightmares that deliver on that aforementioned gore.
Who should also be in class but a witty and polite Jenny played by Tina Majorino (Waterworld, Veronica Mars)? She’s taking being a single mom well, hits it off with the couple and invites them to dinner at her farmhouse. Turns out Jenny’s not from the block. It’s a hard right from Way the Hell and Gone, and just around the corner from No One Can Hear You Scream.
Shocks and imprisonment for Val are on the menu, of course. For Tommy? Ohhh. Jenny’s an Annie Wilkes with an artificial pregnancy prosthetic and a serious jones for a baby of her own. And yes, she’s C-section-willing if that’s what it takes.
I can’t list all the trigger warnings without spoiling, but let’s just say if you spot the possibility of something you’re squeamish about, you might want to proceed with caution. In fact, if you’re expecting, phone a friend and have them watch first and discuss. If you’re a lover of anything else, you might also want to phone a friend. Or a tele-therapist.
Into The Dark always delivers technical proficiency tinged with TV-movie budget realities. This one, like a few other entries, makes the most of a limited setting, and it’s bolstered by Majorino’s tightly wound performance that can swerve on a dime from sweet-and-bubbly to “Look, B*tch I’ll…”
And Paul’s a match, moving from trepidation about her pregnancy to begging and horror and ultimately tough decisions.
While the B-story’s a bit obligatory and a little underdeveloped—they only have 80 minutes—and there’s a car chase scene—remember Summer of Fear?—Delivered provides a not-so-blessed event with suspense and a logical and foreshadowed but shocking conclusion that, again, without spoiling, could be triggering.
Horror fans who’ve dismissed Into the Dark may, okay I know what month it is, might, want to consider this one. For fans of other Into the Dark installments, while it relies mostly on that Blumhouse blend of anxiety and anticipation, if blood’s an issue, be prepared to look away.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director: Emma Tammi
Writer: Dirk Blackman
Starring: Natalie Paul, Tina Majorino, Michael Cassidy, Micah Joe Parker
Release: May 8, 2020 (Hulu)
Runtime: 80 minutes