Director Maggie Levin’s entry for Hulu’s Into The Dark is a fun and bloody example of how horror films can mean more than violence and gore.
Valentine (Britt Baron) is a singer and songwriter recovering from an abusive and manipulative relationship with a destructive ex named Royal (Benedict Samuel). As she’s working to better herself she discovers that Royal has taken her songs, her look, everything about who she is and transposed it onto a young woman known as Trezzure (Anna Lore). While performing at a local club Royal and Trezzure show up to confront Valentine, and after being locked in the club alone with Valentine’s only true friend Julie (Anna Akana) things become violent and deadly at an alarming rate.
My Valentine could have easily been a paint by numbers story of revenge of abuse. Instead it focuses on the deeper elements of how toxic abusive relationships linger long after they’re finished. It also comments on the ways in which the rest of the world will abandon the victims of these relationships. It’s far too easy for the charismatic guy to convince the world that he’s the one who has been hurt. When in reality he’s a vicious and disgusting monster who uses everyone for his own benefit. This isn’t a cautionary tale, and it’s not a simple example of how these scenarios play out. This is a story that says, this happens, and these are the results, and it’s not pretty.
As much as this is a horror film, it’s also a straight up drama about the ways in which these events play out. Manipulative men will find ways of getting what they want, even when they’ve been cut off from the people they manipulate. They use their resources to bring terror to their victims long after the relationship has ended. For many victims, there is no full recovery until something has been done to truly destroy the person who caused the pain. Sometimes that’s prison or some sort of exile, but sometimes the only way to end the terror is through death.
The film also does an amazing job at commenting on the power of women, and their ability to reclaim their strength and individuality after a toxic relationship like Valentine and Royal’s. It’s not easy to be sucked into this world that you’re made to believe is what’s right, when in fact it’s destructive and abusive, and then to have to find a way to rebuild yourself after you’ve escaped. It takes more strength than some people are capable of, and while it helps to have a support system, there are far too many times where those who have been in these situations lose any support they may have.
Maggie Levin has truly crafted a perfect story here of how destructive, abusive, and manipulative relationship truly play out. Touching on every single aspect of the relationship itself, the recovery after it’s over, and the solitude as you try to move forward. It’s an amazing film that would become a smash hit if released in theaters. The acting is fantastic throughout. The editing and camera work echo the works of some of the greatest filmmakers of our generation. The music and the songs by Dresage are catchy, fun, and will stay in your head long after the film is done. This is a film that can’t be missed, not just because of its important message and story, but because it’s just so damn good.
My Valentine is currently streaming on Hulu. You can check out our interview with director Maggie Levin here.
Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 5 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)