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You Can’t Just Drop One of the Cutest Trailers of the Year Days Before The Movie’s Release

Ghosting takes on another meaning.

Darby and The Dead. Image: Hulu.

Because I spend so much time looking up movies and shows, I’m not phased by trailer ads/sponsored content on social media. However, something caught my eye because not only did it begin with a familiar yet new introduction, “I’m Darby Harper. I see dead people,” but because it said this movie was going to be available this Friday to stream on Hulu. You can almost call it a Netflix move to not really push advertisements of their collection until after it goes viral, but at least Hulu did this before the movie came out.

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This appears to combine the frenemy and “ugly duckling to high school royalty” themes of teen movies past (where the main character is already gorgeous) with supernatural elements. While “I see dead people” is a word-for-word callback to M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Sixth Sense, the matter-of-fact delivery from Riele Downs (playing Darby Harper) is reminiscent of my favorite TV show in middle school, Dead Like Me. Though the plot features ghosts and not zombies, there’s a little bit of Lily Anderson’s 2018 YA novel Undead Girl Gang to it, too.

In the trailer, we have introvert Darby ferrying dead people into some sort of afterlife, and having to balance that with high school. After the death of the head cheerleader Capri (played by Auli’i Cravalho) by way of a hair straightener, the highly anticipated Sweet 17 party seemingly dies with her. However, she doesn’t pass over and instead convinces Darby to allow her this one single request: throw the party. This poses a problem, as not only did they butt heads before Capri’s death, but Darby doesn’t have the social capital to pull it off the Cool Girl™ status Capri held.

As someone with a love/hate relationship with the “makeover” trope in films, it’s kinda exciting to see Harper embrace her coils as part of her new look. While it’s kinda strange to see a non-Black character convince her to pursue a natural look, I also see where it is coming from. After all, Capri died in pursuit of straight hair, so she’s just looking out for Darby.

Newspaper clipping that reads 'cheerleader electrocuted in locker room' from the 'Darby and the Dead' trailer. Image: Hulu.

Directed by Silas Howard, this looks to have the charm of many supernatural teen movies before it, and an early reviewer (of this movie that feels like it came out of nowhere) even hinted at a cheerleading sequence! If Ms. Queen Bee looks familiar, it’s because she’s participated in Disney projects for the last few years, from Moana to The Little Mermaid Live! Because Downs is coming from a body of work that is mostly Nickelodeon projects, I’m not super familiar with her, but the trailer leaves me excited to see her.

Darby and the Dead releases December 2 on Hulu.

(featured image: Hulu)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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