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  • Jennifer Green

Review: "Darby and the Dead"

This film features a cast of promising young actors, but it lacks originality and falls into the trap of many high school movies that portray teens as superficial products of worn-out clichés. Darby and the Dead, like others before it, wants it both ways -- to build a story around the hegemony and parameters of high school cliques while also critiquing them as shallow and meaningless.

Throwing in a final act where characters from different social strata confess their mutual insecurities and find a middle ground doesn't reverse the fact that the film's premise is built on the same tired hierarchy and portrayals.


For example, Capri coaches Darby not just on looking and acting the part of high school queen bee but also marketing the brand on social media. She praises her for "becoming a real person" when she gains more than 700 followers on Instagram and admonishes her for posting a "bikini selfie" without photoshopping or Facetuning it first.


We're meant to understand both the silliness of this worldview and its basis in reality, which is a subtle moral message that this film, and so many others, fails to successfully land. Viewers may also feel they've seen it all before, from the haughty high schooler who breaks the fourth wall (Honor Society), to the popularity-provoking glow-up (He's All That, Do Revenge), to the dead-before-their-time storyline (Afterlife of the Party, The In Between).

 

Read the full review at Common Sense Media.

Images courtesy of Hulu.

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