Hulu and Blumhouses partnership has given genre fans a great anthology series with Into the Dark. The series is a monthly horror event and despite its categorization as a television series, each “episode” is a feature-length installment. Each is inspired by a different holiday befitting the month in which it airs. Now, we’re getting a St. Patrick’s Day story for March. This month’s horror feature is worlds away from February’s My Valentine. Crawlers is an alien invasion that thrives on camp directed by Brandon Zuck.
Crawlers centers on three unlikely friends in a college town on a pub crawl on St. Patrick’s Day when what should have been a wild night of parties and drunken revelry turns into a mission to save their town from a vicious horde of body-switching aliens. When Crawlers starts, we meet Misty (Pepi Sonuga), a young woman who is feeling isolated after she was roofied by a frat guy. Given her past experience, Misty isn’t really interested in the pub crawl festivities, especially since her best friend Chloe (Jude Demorest) isn’t understanding and instead has moved to replace her with a new friend, Yuejin (Olivia Liang).
Enter, the “drug dealer,” Shauna (Giorgia Whigham). A tropey conspiracy theorist, when Chloe disappears with one of the guys from the same frat as Misty’s rapist, she decides to help Misty find her friend. In the process, they wind up at the frat house. But, instead of saving Chloe, they end up saving Aaron (Cameron Fuller), one of the fraternity brothers. From that point on, the trio tries to figure out what exactly is happening in their town that is anything but sober and get to the bottom of this alien invasion.
Crawlers is fun, and while it contains some heavier subjects, it doesn’t deconstruct them in the same way that previous Into the Dark segments have. And honestly, this isn’t a fault. Instead, the film treats those things as common occurrences. While some may see it as dismissive, the film never acts like Misty’s pain isn’t important, but instead sets it as a reality of living in a college town and going out around known offenders. In my undergrad, there was one frat house everyone knew not to go to, and in the way that Misty explains her experience with not being believed by police, it all feels like something college-age women have experienced.
This is taken steps further as Misty gets to know Aaron, who desperately tries to say that he isn’t a bad guy. He is put in his place when Misty breaks down that the fact that doing nothing to help her, hanging out with bad guys, and being in a frat of them means he isn’t a good guy, even if he himself changes. This one moment in the car points out that excusing bad behavior can be as bad as committing it. Taking it one step further, Aaron doesn’t push Misty back on her points. Instead, he accepts it which keeps the film from simply forgiving the acts of others in the fraternity while also making Aaron likable enough, or at least understanding.
Beyond the explanations of college life and how it’s different for women, the story is a really fun one, using a familiar pod people narrative and adding in campy variations on how the aliens take different human forms. When the trio realizes the aliens are here, Catherine Wignall and Mike Gan’s teleplay do well to not only teach audiences the rules that the aliens work through the main characters but do so without ever feeling like pure exposition.
One of the ways this is done is by using Shauna to add narration to the film. From the opening of the film to the end, it is well done and it adds both dark humor and serves as an explanatory force all while keeping pace and never detracting from the story. In fact, Shauna’s quirky nature and her conspiracy theory background make her one of the most endearing characters and makes Crawlers all the more humorous and lighthearted.
Additionally, Crawlers balances its humor with some fairly fast and cathartic action. When paired together, the humor and action gives viewers a satisfying and fun installment for St. Patrick’s Day. That said, some of the dialogue is frustratingly on-the-nose, but it always feels fun. Plus, the St. Patrick’s Day setting is just that, a setting. It’s in the background and doesn’t really inform the story beyond being a moment in time.
Overall, Into the Dark: Crawlers is a lot of fun. A pod people-esque story, it distinguishes itself by adding in different rules for how the aliens switch their bodies and this helps it stand out against others in the genre. Additionally, Crawlers is a joy to watch in all of its exaggerations and small moments of camp make this the perfect Friday night flick to watch.
Into the Dark: Crawlers premieres exclusively on Hulu March 6, 2020.
Into the Dark: Crawlers
Into the Dark: Crawlers is a lot of fun. A pod people-esque story, it distinguishes itself by adding in different against others in the genre because of how the aliens take on their new forms. Additionally, Crawlers is a joy to watch in all of its exaggerations and small moments of camp make this the perfect Friday night flick to watch.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.