Lil Rel Howery has established himself as one of the funniest actors around with loads of comedies under his belt. And yet he’ll probably always be known for his breakout first role in Jordan Peele’s Get Out. He also had a role in the Netflix hit, Bird Box. So Howery knows his way around horror, but for the first time he gets the genre spotlight all to himself in The Mill, the latest entry in Hulu’s series of Huluween specials for spooky season.
Set in a future hyper-capitalist AI-enhanced version of America, Howery stars as Joe, an ambitious rising star at Mallard, a mega-corporation that has engulfed Amazon and Apple in market share. A devoted family man with a pregnant wife about to pop, Joe suddenly wakes up alone in a nightmarish prison cell with no memory of how he got there. His only hope of seeing his wife again centers on an archaic grist mill that he must work to meet a daily quota that beats the other unseen captives. Whoever scores the lowest amount will be terminated.
Call it “advanced career training”, but Mallard sees Joe and the others as underperformers. Joe is pushed to the breaking point in a form of modern day slavery, highlighting the discussion surrounding the labor movement and the advancement of AI on our workforce.
“Today’s American discourse is centered on labor and artificial intelligence,” says director Sean King O’Grady. “Eight months ago, when we filmed The Mill, these discussions were hypothetical. Our film unexpectedly became relevant. But it’s not just about AI or labor. Joe’s tale isn’t merely topical — it’s universal. It’s about feeling trapped in a system that takes more than it gives, feeling like a replaceable cog in a lifeless machine. Have you ever felt powerless or exploited in this way? Do you right now?”
O’Grady previously directed the Sierra McCormick/Vinessa Shaw thriller, We Need to Do Something which I thought showed a ton of promise.
Also starring Pat Healy, Karen Obilom, Patrick Fischler, The Mill hits Hulu on October 9th.