Aside from being a reliable source of quality holiday horror entertainment over the past year and a half, Hulu’s feature film anthology series Into the Dark has low-key become an inclusive showcase for women of color, who have starred in at least one-third of the episodes so far, including Pilgrim, Pure, Uncanny Annie, Culture Shock, Down and the most recent entry, the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Crawlers.
Crawlers is an interesting case in that it can be argued that it has two separate “final girls” — black Misty (Pepi Sonuga, whom you may remember from Leprechaun Returns, Thriller and Ash vs. Evil Dead) and white Shauna (Giorgia Whigham) — although in the end, it’s Misty whose story is most central to the plot and it’s her in whom we’re most emotionally invested (granted, it looks like someone forgot to tell whoever made the Shauna-centric movie poster).
Misty is the more traditional final girl: a “good girl” college student trying to keep her party girl bestie, Chloe (Jude Demorest), from going too wild during a St. Paddy’s Day pub crawl. She’s loyal to a fault, going out of her way to protect Chloe when it’s painfully clear that her wild child pal doesn’t reciprocate the loyalty — due to her dubious attitude towards Misty’s cautionary tale of being drugged and taken advantage of (to the best of her recollection) by one of the local Beta frat boys.
In Misty’s mind, the Betas are the most dangerous predators on the prowl during the crawl, but unbeknownst to her, a long-gestating alien invasion is about to come to fruition, and when she gets separated from Chloe during the festivities, Misty is willing to risk life and limb to save her shitty friend. Misty, alas, is kind of a putz. In the process, she forms an unlikely team up with Shauna, Chloe’s conspiracy theorist townie drug dealer; Aaron (Cameron Fuller), a Beta with a heart of gold; and Yuejin (Olivia Liang), a new rival for Chloe’s BFF affection.
Misty and Shauna serve as yin and yang in Crawlers. Misty, still traumatized and depressed from her frat house episode, carries a somber, angsty energy that Shauna balances with her high-energy, bad girl comic relief. In years past, the races of these two roles would almost always be switched, with the black actress playing the more shallow, streetwise, comic hustler type and the white actress playing the wholesome, victimized good girl who has genuine emotions to which we’re supposed to relate.
Kudos to the filmmakers for bucking that tired trend, although their insistence on shoehorning frat boy Aaron into a heroic role feels a bit insensitive to sexual assault victims, given he was aware of the incident and never did anything about it — even though he’s the PRESIDENT of the frat. He still lives in the house and parties with the same guys, but all he has to do is apologize to Misty and say “I’m not like the rest of the guys in my house” (you know, his friends) for her to forgive and forget. Ultimately, while Crawlers is a breezy, fun riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this is the creepiest part of the entire film.