Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Into the Dark: Crawlers

Forget about killer leprechauns. Body-snatcher aliens are the real St. Patrick’s Day horror. Cleverly, they will invade a college town on the night of St. Patrick’s. It is because of the drinking and the poor judgement, unreliable witnesses, and highly vulnerable victims that results. However, the townie drug dealer is an alien conspiracy buff, so she is surprisingly prepared. She will explain to her online followers how it all went down in Brandon Zuck’s Crawlers, the latest installment in the Blumhouse-produced Into the Dark, which premieres this Friday on Hulu.

Misty thought Chloe was her BFF, but they have been on the outs, ever since the latter failed to offer adequate support after the former was roofied in a frat house. Instead of being there, Chloe has flitted off to a new bestie, the snarky New Yorker (is there any other kind?), Yuejin. However, Misty still charges after her shallow pal when she drunkenly leaves with another predatory brother from the fateful fraternity. Fortunately, Shauna, Chloe’s drug dealer reluctantly agrees to accompany Misty. However, inside the house they find evidence of sinister alien skullduggery instead of Chloe.

Eventually, Misty and Aaron, a bro who was apparently doppelgangered by the aliens, will come to believe Shauna is right about the body-doubling invaders. Being believed is important in this film, whether it be Misty’s presumed assault or Shauna’s mother, who witnessed an earlier alien landing on an earlier St. Patrick’s night, decades ago.

Wow, Blumhouse really has it info fraternities, judging from this film and last year’s Black Christmas remake. At least Crawlers still manages to be fun. Basically, it is nostalgic, like-you-know trip down dead teenager memory lane. It is easy to think of it as an updated riff on Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps, but it isn’t as wildly madcap as that would sound. Instead, it fits somewhere in between the Syfy original movie Killer High and last year’s back-to-school edition of Into the Dark, School Spirit (which was directed by Mike Gan, who co-scripted Crawlers).

Giorgia Whigham is a blast as Shauna and Olivia Liang is amusingly caustic and catty as Yuejin. Likewise, Jude Demorest portrays Chloe as an appropriately shallow and entitled hard-partying mess. Unfortunately for Pepi Sonuga, she is left playing Misty, the painfully earnest one, but she does her best to suggest an arc of empowerment for her character.

Honestly, it is hard to go wrong with body-snatcher movies, so it is weird that we do not get more of them. Crawlers is not exactly an instant classic, but it gets the job done. Recommended for the attitude and the genre traditions it represents, Crawlers starts streaming this Friday (3/6), as part of the current season of Into the Dark on Hulu.