Crawlers (2020)

SEPTEMBER 24, 2020


I wasn't planning on watching two "pod people" movies in a row, but one thing about HMAD that I tried to do as much as possible is not search too long, if at all, for something to watch. The only rule is that I couldn't have seen it (or, on occasion, couldn't remember anything about it from a childhood viewing), so when I loaded up Hulu's horror section and saw Crawlers on the front page, I just clicked it without any further thought. In fact, I thought it was a zombie movie about some drunks being the only line of defense, and that's not what it is at all, so either I am thinking of another movie or I made up a better one in my head based on what little I learned about the film since it premiered back in March.

The title refers to drinking though, specifically pub "crawlers", as it's St Patrick's Day in a college town and thus all the idiots are getting very very drunk. Our heroine, Misty, isn't a non-drinker but clearly isn't excited about getting blackout drunk either, and has only shown up at one of the pubs to support her best friend, Chloe, who is very much the type to get blackout drunk. Upon arrival she is quickly put off by two things: the presence of some frat guys, one of whom may have assaulted her (she woke up in the frat house unsure of what happened to her, no one will spill details), and Chloe's OTHER best friend, a somewhat snobby girl named Yuejin. Chloe and Yuejin go off to play drinking games, leaving her at the pub without much of a reason to be there, occasionally making awkward small talk with Shauna, a local weed/molly dealer who spouts conspiracy theories and has little affection for any of these people beyond selling to them to make a living.

All of this information is conveyed on-screen in a normal manner, but it takes about twenty minutes to get through it all, because the film is actually a flashback being told by Shauna in the present day, complete with freeze frame interruptions and record scratches. Sometimes the movie only resumes for a few seconds before she interrupts again, a device that almost had me shutting the film off and finding something else to watch, an emergency action I say with some pride I've only had to employ ONCE in thirteen years of doing this. Starting off this kind of movie by telling you that someone survives is already kind of a silly move in my opinion, but to constantly break into it instead of letting the audience get caught up in its narrative is just plain stupid.

Thankfully, as the film goes on Shauna's interruptions become more infrequent. However, the writers neglect to take advantage of the solid foundation they set up in that pub scene, which is that both Misty and Shauna can't get anyone to believe them: the former about her assault, the latter about aliens coming to destroy the world (something she grew up with due to her mother, witness to a local meteor crash forty years prior). The parallels could have been fascinating, especially since Shauna's got the proof that Misty lacks (which could pave the way to the ultimate kind of "believe women" scenario) once the pod people begin taking over more and more people, but almost nothing is done with this concept. Misty eventually confronts one of the other frat guys (the obligatory nice one who is in the frat but does not go along with their grosser attributes) and gets to (spoiler) attack the guy who assaulted her without even having to check first if he's an alien, but that's about it for that storyline. They don't even utilize their title; the protagonists are all basically sober, the pub crawl all but completely forgotten after the first twenty minutes or so.

Instead, it focuses more on the fact that Chloe kind of sucks, which allows for a somewhat heartbreaking moment where Misty confronts both her friend and one that's an alien and has to figure out which one is human, with the alien screwing up because it says something nice whereas the real Chloe would only care about herself. What a way to finally realize your "best friend" is a toxic drain on your own sense of self, huh? Unfortunately, it's already crystal clear to us that Chloe sucks almost as soon as we meet her, so while it is indeed a nice bit of writing, it also means we wait the entire movie for one of our protagonists to catch up to us.

I also couldn't help but think they should have confined more of the movie to the pub and/or frat house, since the budget is clearly too small for them to sell the idea of a town-wide invasion. Even the climax, where they go to a "nest" to blow it up has a distracting minimum of antagonists; at one point the nice frat guy does something that supposedly lets the aliens all know they're about to get toasted, prompting a "we got to get out of here FAST!" kind of race for the exit, but our heroes are met with almost no resistance along the way. I think we see less than a dozen of the things in the entire movie, as if they were simply wiping out the town instead of replacing its inhabitants. Every time they go somewhere and we see absolutely nothing along the way to suggest the chaos that is supposedly happening, it makes it harder to buy.

Oh well. I liked seeing Giorgia Whigham (Shauna) again, as she was a bright spot in the somewhat underrated third season of Scream and was all gothed out there so it was fun to see her looking more normal, though in the present day scenes she has her hair blond instead of dark and more "pretty" makeup, a weird choice for a pod person movie unless they plan to make it a point, which of course they do not. And even if it's almost never utilized I enjoy the idea behind the "podding" here, which is that they are more like shapeshifters and just need to bite someone to get their DNA and change instantly - not sure if I've seen that kind of thing before. However, while I can appreciate that they were attempting to marry some legit societal issues with their pod person movie (a tradition that was mostly skipped in yesterday's Assimilate), it was frustrating to see them mostly shrugged off as the film continued, in favor of a wholly obnoxious framing device. And stop with the goddamned name on screen gimmick! It wasn't even cool in The Faculty, 22 years ago! And that movie did these things better anyway!

What say you?

P.S. This was actually the first "Into the Dark" movie I've watched - feel free to recommend some others! I optimistically assume this is not a high bar for the series.


  1. Glad to have you back doing the daily reviews. Great stuff. The "Into the Dark" series is really hit or miss, but I would recommend Pilgrim. Fun bloody Thanksgiving movie in the series.

  2. The other movie you’re thinking of might be Grabbers.

  3. I thought Culture Shock and Pilgrim were pretty solid. School Spirit was fun, too. The rest I've seen weren't as enjoyable.

  4. Aw man, I hope we in the UK eventually get a release date for Scream season 3

  5. It has its detractors but I'm a big fan of pooka and new year new you from into the dark

  6. I would love to see you just do an Into the Dark movie a day and see your opinions of them. Most of them (or at least half) are pretty good. Even the clunkers are somewhat watchable. The only one I could never finish was My Valentine because man, it was incredibly bad.


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