In honor of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, let’s drive some aliens out of America.
Shauna (Giorgia Whigham), a conspiracy theorist, relays a story for her Vlog about a crazy St. Patrick’s Day she had in her college town. She was at a bar when a girl named Misty (Pepi Sonuga), who had been through a recent trauma at a local frat house, came in with her friends Chloe (Jude Demorest) and Yuejin (Olivia Liang). Shauna tells Misty of the time many years prior that her mother (Virginia Louise Smith) saw a meteor crash on St. Patrick’s day nearby. Misty then gets a call from Chloe who is apparently attacked by a frat boy named Aaron (Cameron Fuller). The two abandon Yuejin to investigate and find themselves embroiled in an alien invasion, possibly involving the snatching of bodies.
This movie resembles Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, only not as funny and with a more feminist viewpoint. It’s still got humorous parts, but while The World’s End involves the male bonding experience of a drinking fest, this movie carries a theme of saying that women can’t have the same kind of innocent fun. It also has a distinct undercurrent of advising everyone to believe women’s experiences, whether they’re saying that something bad happened in a frat house or if they’re saying that there are alien replicants killing people around town. While most male characters in these kind of films are worried they won’t be believed because they’ll sound crazy, the characters in this film are concerned they’ll be ignored because they’re women. Given that much of the film involves dealing with a group of frat boys who may be abducting women either because they’re drunk or because they’re aliens, the film isn’t super subtle.
On a second level, the aliens are analogous to the traditional revelers on St. Patrick’s Day. They start off as normal people before they start to engage in aggressive sexual or violent behavior. They also have green eyes, similar to the color of green that is usually tied to the holiday, and they keep trying to bring other people into their crowd. It’s not the best metaphor, but it does at least make the holiday connection that Into The Dark works for. They did add in the idea that St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland was just a metaphor for him repelling an alien invasion, which was kind of neat.
The subtext works well, but the film unfortunately never quite gets the actual plot down as well as it should. The aliens are never particularly threatening, beyond the fact that, much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing, they can abduct and replace people. However, they don’t seem to be doing it that much unless threatened, they don’t have to kill the person to do it, and they didn’t do anything for a long period of time. It honestly feels like they could have been negotiated with if everyone had just been made aware of the situation. I just never got a sufficient horror vibe.
The frame-story narration doesn’t help much either. While it allows for some funny moments, the narration doesn’t add anything to the story and often makes no logical sense (she’s commenting on scenes we see in the film like she actually has access to the footage). It also has some random filming issues, but those don’t add anything to the narrative aside from making it feel cheaper. It really just wasn’t worthwhile.
Also, and this is just a personal thing that bugs me, when people have a way to determine aliens by blood, why does everyone prick their palm or their fingers? Why wouldn’t you prick the backside of your hand so that the blood doesn’t interfere with your ability to actually do useful alien fighting stuff? Because… duh.
The performances were all above average for a low-budget horror film, but about on par for Into the Dark.
Overall, this movie did manage to use the horror genre as a metaphor for a real social anxiety, something that I love, but it just wasn’t too much of a horror film or sci-fi film. If you just like alien movies, then this will still work for you, but I wasn’t blown away as much as I was by some of the previous entries to the series.
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