Into the Dark is an ongoing horror holiday anthology film series on Hulu that started last Halloween with The Body. To celebrate Mother’s Day weekend in their own twisted way, Into the Dark released All That We Destroy, one of the strongest films in the anthology series yet. A Blumhouse Television Production, the holiday horror film focuses on a wealthy geneticist (Samantha Mathis) trying to “cure” her serial killer son (Israel Broussard) of his violent tendencies. Dr. Victoria Harris is at the forefront of her field in genetics—having already perfected human cloning—and is on the verge of revolutionizing health care entirely with the creation of fully sustainable organs. Spencer, her serial killer son, seems harmless but he kills clones of his first kill Ashley (Aurora Perrineau) that his mother makes for him out of her posh home lab an infinite amount of times. All That We Destroy is a terrifying glimpse at the irrationality of a mother’s love, even in the face of blatant psychopathy.
The title, All That We Destroy, is very apt and poetic. Dr. Harris puts her career, her livelihood, and her safety at jeopardy from the start and is willing to become a bigger monster than Spencer is in an effort to understand him. The more All That We Destroy moves through its run time, the clearer it becomes that the two sort of become one big symbiotic monster. Dr. Harris always knew what Spencer was; as a child, he had killed a little girl by pushing her from the jungle gym at school. When recounting the story he even admits that he knew it was wrong, but the world got quiet and made sense. He was in control; he was God…and his mother, a brilliant geneticist, reacted by pulling him out of school and away from society.
Dr. Harris has a tragically clinical view of the world when it involves anything other than Spencer. It’s a real testament in telling this story from the Harris’ point of view. After all, everyone is the hero of their own story—no matter how atrocious their actions may be. There’s no defending either Dr. Harris or Spencer’s actions in any way either; but there is an element of sadness about the entire proceedings, an almost Shakespearean tragedy unfolding before your eyes as you know this isn’t going to end well.
And this is a story of privilege; none of this would have even occurred if Spencer wasn’t the son of a wealthy white geneticist. Spencer is like an evil Hamlet, just wondering the halls of his castle filled with ghosts, or in this case clones of his first murder victim Ashley. Dr. Harris is convinced that the “cure” to Spencer’s affliction lies in recreating the sensation in his first kill Ashley. Technically, it was his second but this was his true first full blown escalation. Dr. Harris had prevented him from hurting or kill anyone by home schooling him for years, but by happenstance the world knocked on his door in a very Hitchcockian way.
A young beautiful girl, the real Ashley, was kicked out of a car in the middle of nowhere. Spencer just happened to be there; after he takes her home he ends up strangling her, but not before becoming obsessed with everything about her. Ashley was the first person his own age that he had spent any time with since the childhood incident on the playground. They hang out all day and night getting to know one another. Just when things seem to be turning intimate, Spencer snaps and viciously murders Ashley through strangulation and smashing her skull off the floor of his bedroom. All That We Destroy is a quietly visceral title as well, as there are so many moments where Ashley and all of her clones are murdered via skull cracking by Spencer.
All That We Destroy really does show just how poisonous a mother’s love can be. It’s hard not to hate Spencer, but also easy to see why new neighbor Marissa (Dora Madison) so easily falls for him. He’s mysterious, attractive, shy, and talented; he’s not exactly charismatic but he’s intelligent and polite. Spencer is soft spoken and wears his heart on his sleeve. He also draws pictures of girls he’s obsessed with covered in things like ants and leaves—like corpses lying on the ground. Marissa is even lucky enough to make the cut, the fatal mistake of getting too close. None of this, nor ex-husband and absent father Parker’s (Frank Whaley) warning are enough for Dr. Harris to do anything but fall further down into a Hell of her own making.
There’s a little bit of Philip K. DIck running through All That We Destroy and the core tenets of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Dr. Harris is essentially a God of her own self-contained universe that wealth and privilege has afforded her. She creates clone after clone of sentient beings whose sole purpose is to “cure” her son’s serial murderous tendencies before switching gears and simply trying to give him a “fix” to have if and when he decides to go out into the real world or even to college— which brings the film back to that idea of privilege again. After all, Spencer would be expected to go to the most prestigious schools in the nation. Dr. Harris is raising a fine son in the confines of her castle, a right Frankenstein’s monster indeed.
The sunny, west coast look of All That We Destroy only adds to the terror of the film. The moral questions only seem more obvious when the dirty deeds are being done in the broad daylight of gated communities by the rich and powerful. If we as a society had the power to create sentient beings to be used as corrective behavior for those of us that needed it, would it be something that would be employed even if possible? I think the “bottom line” would say it would be just too expensive of a program. What about those sentient beings? Is it murder to kill something that you created? Once you create life and so carelessly smash it away and become a God, how easily can you still call yourself a human being at all?
The villagers come to chase Frankenstein’s monster out of the castle when he murders a young village girl, but in All That We Destroy no one comes to rescue the girl from the castle until it’s too late. Dr. Harris and Spencer were only hindered because of their own mistakes, not because anyone stopped to see what was actually going on. Even when Ashley does manage to escape just in time, the police pull her off the corpse of Spencer and take her kicking and screaming away to presumably live her life in a jail cell. Dr. Harris is last seen creating the first clone of her dead son. There is actually a silver lining—an almost cynical hope that this new version of Spencer can be trained and taught by his mother to not have the impulses that drove him to kill; but at what cost? Dr. Harris sacrifices everything, including her humanity, for her son and in the end still has to start over and build him up from scratch. Happy Mother’s Day.