By Kayla Caldwell
On the one hand, BLOOD MOON, March’s episode for Hulu and Blumhouse Television’s Into the Dark, is a lovely story about a single mother who is devoted to her darling son, Luna. On the other, it’s a horror about the struggle to keep a monster from running free.
Director Emma Tammi is no stranger to the motherhood thriller, having directed May’s Into the Dark feature, Delivered. However, the child, in this case, is a bit older, the 10-year-old (and adorable!) Luna, played by Yonas Kibreab. He and his mother, Esme (played by Megalyn Echikunwoke), seem to be new in town… and very interested in almost $400 worth of hardware supplies that must be delivered and assembled as soon as possible.
If that weren’t strange enough, after getting a job at a local cafe, Esme demands the 21st of the month off immediately. The owner is taken aback but eventually agrees, probably because he clearly has a crush on the town’s new arrival.
Amid normal mother-son moments like reading books and talking about Luna’s late father, and not-so-normal moments, like Esme barring Luna from interacting with any other children, BLOOD MOON seems hyper fixated on the calendar, always coming back to the 21st.
Every month Esme circles the dreaded day on the calendar, walking away with a shudder or sigh to indicate she’s clearly not looking forward to its approach. I think most women could probably relate to this sentiment, though the moon is important for a different reason here. If there weren’t enough hints as to what might happen - the calendar circling, the cage building, the skittishness around new people - Luna’s name even indicates his connection to the moon.
Esme is clearly a protective mom, organizing her life around what it takes to keep her son safe. She doesn’t care about the cost, whether that be having to slaughter cows with her own hands, or having to move across the country and start over again and again.
Nothing is more important than Luna’s safety, even if that means keeping him out of school and away from other kids. As the movie progresses, viewers find out why all the secrecy, as well as get a peek into the cheeky, fun relationship Esme had with Luna’s father. In my opinion, the film could’ve stood to have more of this, not only because of Jack Yang’s charm but also because, well, there’s a reason the podcast Lore is so popular. We want to know the who, what, where, when, and why about this kid-turned-vicious folkloric creature!
BLOOD MOON, not unlike Delivered, shows the lengths a determined mother will go to to keep her baby safe. This includes remaining completely calm while a skeezy police officer does a particularly nerve-wrecking stop and search because he’s mad a woman didn’t respond well to his advances.
With all the close calls and isolation, it’s a wonder Esme and Luna can keep up this act for as long as they have. It also makes you think that, at some point, destruction is as inevitable as that rapidly approaching date circled in red on the calendar.
After all of her hard work, Esme’s perfectly-crafted world is threatened thanks to a well-meaning, albeit nosey and unwelcome man, her boss Sam (played by Joshua Dov). He stops by to drop off her “wage packet” as well as some flowers, but can’t help himself from overstepping his bounds as he tries to follow an unpleasant stench. I’ll just say that Sam is not going to like what he finds down in that basement.
Echikunwoke imbues Esme with the tenderness of a loving mother, and the roughness of a warrior forced to protect her kin. And Kibreab’s Luna is so sweet and soft-spoken, he makes you understand why Esme is willing to risk it all to save him.
BLOOD MOON is an interesting take on the lycanthrope mythos, showing the struggles of living in a human’s world from the perspective of the ol’ Wolfman’s mom. It’s not the best flick if you're looking for heart-pounding scares. However, for an atmospheric thriller that pulls on the heartstrings (both literally and figuratively, in some cases), and builds to a dramatic conclusion, BLOOD MOON is a fun watch.
The one downside would be the film seems much more focused on the tension, emotions, and mother-son bond than it does the gore. Sorry body horror fans, the human-to-creature transformation isn’t exactly anything to write home about. If you can look past that, BLOOD MOON is a fun, and almost heart-warming addition to the Into the Dark collection.
BLOOD MOON premieres on Hulu on March 26.