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Culture Shock Review: Best Of Into The Dark?

Carrying forward with its tradition of basing one episode on an American holiday, the tenth episode of Into The Dark premiered on the American Independence Day. Called Culture Shock, the episode/movie revolves around the immigrant crisis, especially the one near the southern border of the USA. Does the movie handle such an important issue deftly?

1.Quick Review

Creepy, symbolic but immensely enjoyable, Culture Shock is a full package.

2.Series and Info Links

Culture Shock

Air Date: July 4, 2019 Status: Finished Studio: Blumhouse Television
Watch Culture Shock on:
Into the Dark: Culture Shock - Trailer (Official) • A Hulu Original
Official Trailer

3. Is It Worth Watching?

Extremely engaging and relevant, Culture Shock is a must-watch for everyone. Even those who wish to keep politics separate from entertainment.

I.Plot

Many people believe that their life will change for the better, only if they can set foot on American soil. Marisol, a young Mexican woman, is no different. She had already tried to illegally cross the American border once before.

 On that occasion, a man she had trusted to get her across the border had raped her. Pregnant with her rapist’s child but determined to give them a better life, she tries to cross the border once again. She comes across Santo, a mercenary and Ricky, a young boy who was crossing the border alone, and they form a group.

But the trip does not go as planned. Marisol, Santo and Ricky are intercepted by a group of the drug mafia and the screen goes blank.

The next scene shows Marisol waking up in a well-made bed; she has pretty clothes on and almost all signs of her previous, poverty-stricken life has vanished. Her baby is with her but is being taken care of by an oddly jubilant lady called Betty.

When Marisol steps out of her house, she realizes that she has arrived in a utopian American suburban town which is getting ready to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Culture Shock-review
Fourth of July functions in the film | Source: Hulu

The town has a mixed population- people of different ethnicities and races are present. But only the white people are leaders.

The town leader asks Marisol to help with the organization of the celebratory functions. Although Marisol initially agrees, her encounter with Santo and Ricky, who seem to have become completely void, forces her to question the reality: is this her picture-perfect dream or is it a nightmare?

II.Detailed Analysis

Culture Shock’s biggest strength is its story. It is a biting satire of the present American society. It puts on a façade of an all-accepting society where immigrants flock to have a better life.

But in truth, the problems that immigrants face in America are in no way better than the ones they faced in their own country: the American problems are different, smaller in magnitude, maybe, but no less persistent. These microaggressions are very accurately portrayed in the film.

What is also very symbolically shown is the backhanded brainwashing of immigrants. The overtly welcoming people, the friendliness is a method to mask the slightly xenophobic tendencies of the ‘Americans’. This characteristic of the film is very Jordan Peele-like.  

Culture Shock also paints a vivid picture of the plight of women immigrants which is quite different from that of the men. Marisol’s struggles are difficult and it is sure to make the audience sympathise with her.  

The fact that the director of the film, Gigi Saul Guerrero, is an immigrant herself makes the story foolproof. Her take on the story is poignant, but not unnecessarily emotional.

Culture Shock-review
Gigi Saul Guerrero, the director

But the film is not without its own set of problems. When compared to the first half, the second half staggers considerably. There are some interesting storylines introduced which are not followed up.

III. Characters

Out of all the characters in Culture Shock, Marisol, played by Martha Higareda, is the one that will steal everyone’s hearts. Her quiet perseverance is very moving. The film’s story along with her acting gives the immigrant status a human touch.

Apart from Marisol, Creed Bratton, most famous for his role in the sitcom The Office (US), plays the role of the nefarious Attwood. His character in Culture Shock is in stark contrast to his character on The Office and will be a surprise to many.

4.Grade

Culture Shock
4/5

Story: A

Cinematography/Animation: A+

Direction: A

Music: B+

Direction: A

5. Final Thoughts

Culture Shock is a different kind of a horror film. It doesn’t only involve the typical tropes of the horror genre. It is a film about the human psyche, which is equally scary. The film’s allegories are simple and straightforward. Some might skip the film because it is too propagandist for them. It is safe to say that Culture Shock is one of the best episodes (if not the best) of Into The Dark-it will force you to sit back and think.

Originally Written By Epic Dope

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Ritaja Roy

Ritaja Roy

Quiz nerd who has entirely too much knowledge about things that don't matter. An overthinking cynic on most days. Lives vicariously through movies and junk food to compensate for missed life experiences.

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