'Into the Dark: Crawlers' Review: From frat parties to alien invasion, this tale is new wine in old bottle
The script from Catherine Wignall and Mike Gan talks about a meteor strike 70 years ago, which hints at their desperation to make themselves more relevant than they actually are
Spoiler alert for 'Into The Dark' Season 2, Episode 6: 'Crawlers'
Blumhouse's anthology venture with Hulu, titled 'Into the Dark' has been known to deliver one iconic TV-movie after the other for consistently two seasons now. Each month the show picks up a holiday from the month and spins a satirical horror story around the idea. This time, March has come with 'Crawlers' for the St Patrick's nightmare. A significant drift from last year's 'Treehouse' where the idea of March and all its ominous connotations were addressed by a bunch of pissed brujas attacking toxic masculinity.
However, this year we see a town of Chicago inundated with college students where madness is unleashed on the night of binge drinking and festivities in the form of body-switching aliens. But with signature gore, the same old portrayal of done and dusted young adults, and a passing nod at the burning issue of sexual assault among college kids, 'Crawler' brings very little to the table and lacks more than just any kind crawling threats.
The name 'Crawlers' could possibly be a reference to the pub-crawl the college kids embark on, on the night of festivities, as the aliens that invade the location embody the regular partying people, after biting them or killing them. Right at the very beginning, a college student and conspiracy theorist Shauna (Giorgia Whigham), also the narrator for the show, briefs viewers of the calamity that struck their town of Emerald Springs on St. Patrick's Day the previous year.
In her brief, as she recounts the initial invasion, she makes very clear that these crawlers are not zombies as there's somehow a totally different pathology to the latter, even though both the creatures are blood hungry killers that infect people by biting.
Shauna is your typical edgy cool girl who likes to never let people forget how holier than thou she is simply for not being interested in mainstream, regular stuff. And this is where 'Crawlers' offers the biggest disappointment that the show's previous installments focused on teen protagonists and their slasher horrors have ended. More than emulating the creepy essence of the Halloween episode 'Uncanny Annie', 'Crawlers' takes a book out of this year's back to school horror 'School Spirit'.
It seems it dabbles in the cliched characters arcs and elements of horror with little novelty. It also showcases a poorly developed character arc for Aaron, the college cassanova and frat boy, seen through his connections with sexual predators amongst his peers.
Other characters include the almost queen bee Misty (Pepi Sonuga) who is suffering from major FOMO and insecurity as she is on the brink of being replaced as the original queen bee's best friend, new-student Yuejin (Olivia Liang.) The three girls more or less wallow in their insecurities under the pressure of maintaining a reputation and do typical college student stuff by making dramatic statements and gagging at the frat boys who send drinks over.
The only respite viewers would find is the prospect of witnessing the ever so hyped-about invasion and adrenaline-pumping alien-squelching action. Sadly 'Crawlers' delivers it in the same old cardboard cutout format that puts it in the leagues of shows like 'Riverdale' - which start off as a teen drama and then bring in horror or murder mystery in a desperate attempt to be relevant but fail miserably.
The perceptive Shauna as the only one noticing people changing colors is matched by her peers' absolute disregard for anything that doesn't concern their starving ache for validation. The scene about 'Massacre' tickets that every student carries on their night of pub crawl looks like they were trying too hard. Director Brandon Zucks' idea of science fiction horror is parlayed through a few token alien heads getting smashed into gooey green mush, but other than that there's not much happening to demand a whole movie centered on the night.
The script from Catherine Wignall and Mike Gan talks about a meteor strike some 70 years ago, which hints, yet again to their desperation to tug at history pages to make themselves more relevant than they actually are.
'Into the Dark: Crawlers' premiers on Friday, March 6, only on Hulu.