ATX TV Festival: INTO THE DARK Takes On “Culture Shock”

4th of July horror is right around the corner.

The Blumhouse TV anthology series Into the Dark entered this year’s ATX Fest with a timely and topical advanced screening of their 4th of July episode called “Culture Shock”. For those of you not in the know on this spine-tingler, each episode of this show is set around a different holiday. This episode, their 4th of July shocker, takes the current political tumult at the US-Mexico border and adds a horror lens to it.

The episode follows Marisol: a pregnant woman trying (for the second time, after being too slow and left behind the first) to cross the border illegally. They paint a stark and desolate picture of her current life: the threat of sexual assault around every corner, drug cartels who take pleasure in terrorizing their fellow Mexican citizens and the children who are forced to take this journey alone. She’s joined in her trip by a mysterious murderer they refer to as Santo and a young boy from Guatemala traveling alone named Ricky. Marisol quickly takes the boy under her wing to keep him safe, with the reluctant help of Santo.

These stories have been depicted before, but not like this. After fainting while fleeing the Mexican cartel in the desert, Marisol mysteriously wakes up now having given birth in America, where everything is idyllic. Shiny, clean, and so many colors! She even, somehow, speaks perfect English and has a sweet and loving benefactor in Betty, played by the queen of horror Barbara Crampton. She takes her and her recently delivered baby to the town square, where they meet the mayor (Shawn Ashmore). Marisol quickly grows suspicious of her terrifyingly sweet new friends, however, and learns that the American dream is not all it seems in this sleepy Pleasantville-like town.

This episode is expertly directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero, who is a double threat Latina actress-director that is taking the horror world by storm. One of her more terrifying touches is using everyone’s favorite Office-worker, Creed Bratton and dressing him eerily like Trump with the bright red tie and blue suit. Guerrero has had a passion for horror throughout her career and clearly took delight in working with Crampton to create one of the more frightening female horror characters in recent television.

Into the Dark is a perfect mix of Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt and definitely deserves your time and attention. This episode will be airing on the actual 4th of July, but the episodes that have already aired are available on Hulu. Run, don’t walk, to your computer to start the holidays of horror today!