NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on March 22, 2021
The Into the Dark series is a monthly anthology on Hulu centered around the idea of holidays. Every month a new film would be released around some random holiday, this has been the way things were since October of 2018… until, ya know, the plague happened and they took a break between August 2020 and Jan of this year. Well, now it’s March and Into the Dark is back with another holiday film, in this case, inspired by the Spring Full Moon, Blood Moon.
Blood Moon follows a single mother, Esme (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and her ten-year-old son, Luna (Yonas Kibreab), as they move into their new home in a secluded desert town. Things seem to go well at first, Esme gets a job at the local pub and manages to be a good mother to her son… but then things start going wrong, like how there’s a mysterious amount of dead cows popping up or how Esme seems to have bought all the things she needs for a cage or how neither her or Luna leave their home on the night of the full moon.
So, in case this being set during a full moon or the title Blood Moon or one of the main characters name being Luna wasn’t enough of a hint for you to guess what kind of horror film this is, we’re delving into the Werewolf genre of horror films. The odd thing about Blood Moon is that it’s more of a family drama than it is an out and out horror film. Instead of extended scenes of carnage by some elaborately designed monster, the tension comes from just seeing how this family are going to deal with this werewolf issue.
What makes Blood Moon work is the stellar performance by Megalyn Echikonwoke who just owns every second she has the screen. The horror is in her fear for her child and she sells it with ease, to the point where you actually forget that we haven’t seen this werewolf do anything for most of the film. It’s offscreen, suggested at but never shown because why bother showing what’s happening when Megalyn’s face tells us everything.
This lack of actually seeing what the main creature does can create a few slow moments, indeed if you’re a horror fan who is more into the scares than the actual drama then you’re going to be waiting quite a long time, and the pacing doesn’t feel quite as good as it could.
You almost wonder just how long we will have to wait before seeing anything shocking and by the time we get there, there’s not much time spent with the actual werewolf. We basically spend about an hour and 15 trying to keep the werewolf locked up and only get to see what happens when he’s loose for 15 minutes. Now, this is definitely more of a family drama so that’s not too big an issue, but it’s still something that might not work for some.
I also can’t deny that the actual ending of Blood Moon is a little bit rushed. I’m not going to go into specifics because of spoilers but it feels like everything just goes way too fast and we don’t get to actually take in the real horror being exposed there… something kind of weird about the main film feeling slow but the ending feeling rushed, but that’s what happens.
Also, the actual reveal of the werewolf (cos, like a lot of good horror films, this one saves the dramatic reveal till the final scene) is… bad? I get that there’s probably not the kind of budget to get a Rick Baker-esque werewolf suit but what they end up using is just kind of silly.
For the most part though, despite some pacing issues, Blood Moon takes a familiar genre and uses it as a foundation to tell the story of a single mother just trying to get by with a child who has very special needs and a job market that makes it harder for her to meet those needs.
The incredible performances, great visuals and powerful story more than cover for the nitpicky issues that can mostly come down to “We filmed this under covid conditions” and “We’re working on a smaller budget than a regular feature”. Blood Moon is a heartbreakingly smart use of a familiar monster and I respect it for finding a new take on a classic.