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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Review: A Nasty Piece Of Work

Director: Charles Hood
Screenplay: Paul Soter
Year: 2019

Not much time had to go by for “Into the Dark” to outdo their best episode. During the month of November, they presented the episode/movie “Pilgrim”, themed after Thanksgiving Day and that had been the best episode of the series until that moment and which even made its way into our list of the best independent horror movies of 2019. A few weeks later, Hulu and Blumhouse Television Productions present “A Nasty Piece of Work” as their Christmas themed episode, which outperforms everything that has been presented in the anthology up until now.

Ted works in a company owned by an eccentric guy and h does everything he can to impress him with hopes of getting a raise. Instead of a raise, everyone in the company receives the news that they will not be getting a Christmas bonus, but Ted and his office fellow Gavin receive an invitation to their boss’ house to evaluate a new position in the company. Once in the house, the night turns into a violent competition for the position.

Ted (Kyle Howard; “Orange County”), his fellow Gavin (Dustin Milligan; “Schitt’s Creek”) and their boss Steven (Julian Sands; “Warlock”) couldn’t be any more different. Ted is the stereotype of a middle-class office worker and Gavin a guy that lives off appearances and in a social level beyond his reach, while Steven is an eccentric millionaire that solves all of his problems with money, These profiles allow director Charles Wood (“Night Owls”) to extract and present in a not so subtle way the commentary about economic inequality and social stratification from the script of Paul Soter (“Super Troopers”).

Once in the house, we get to know the rest of the cast constituted of the wives of the three men, all of which accentuate the economic stereotype that each one represents. Ted’s wife Tatum (Angela Sarafyan; “The Immigrant”) is a modest but smart and educated woman, while Gavin’s wife Missy (Natalie Hall; “True Blood”) is physically beautiful but vain and not very smart. Kiwi (Molly Hagan; “Sully”), Steve’s wife, is as eccentric as her husband and has no objection to verbalize how dysfunctional her marriage is, which seems to be tied together by the strength of money.

When the competition and mind games start between the marriages it shows up the quality of the great acting. They are all capable of keeping the mysterious but comedic tone in each of their characters and it is obvious that they all had fun with their interpretations. After all hell breaks loose inside the house, their reactions are credible and help to enjoy the excellent work of the director and screenwriter, where they keep the viewer as unsure of if what’s happening is real or part of a game as the characters by using well-placed twists.

“A Nasty Piece of Work” is mainly a comedy, but when the moment comes it doesn’t shy away from blood and gore. In the spirit of proving what someone is capable of doing to be successful, it is exemplified how easy it is to corrupt even people with good values and the physical and psychological damage that they are capable of delivering. On the side of the physical damage, several scenes are offered that are surprisingly violent and reminds the magnitude of the danger they are subject and keeps the atmosphere dark without stopping to be fun.

“Into the Dark” keeps on giving something to talk about this season with two excellent entries to the series with “A Nasty Piece of Work” putting itself as the best movie/episode until now. This comedy is as fun as it is dark, with an interesting social and economic commentary and great acting. A movie that horror fans will appreciate having a break from the joy of Christmas classics such as “American Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and any other offering by Disney with something more aggressive than “Home Alone”.

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