“I see dead people” is a line you simply can’t use without a certain amount of winking. But Hulu’s upcoming Darby and the Dead is a little more Buffy the Vampire Slayer + Dead Like Me than The Sixth Sense. Darby Harper (Riele Downs) has an unwelcome skill (seeing dead people and helping them pass on) but has to suffer through hell (high school) rather than just dealing with this job she didn’t ask for.
And then a dead cheerleader makes it all even worse.
The movie’s summary explains:
After suffering a near-death experience as a young girl, Darby Harper (Downs) gains the ability to see dead people. As a result, she becomes introverted and shut off from her high school peers and prefers to spend time counseling lonely spirits who have unfinished business on earth. But all that changes when Capri (Cravalho), the Queen Bee of the school’s most exclusive clique, unexpectedly dies in a freak hair straightening accident, resulting in the obvious cancellation of her upcoming “Sweet 17.” Capri, however, pleads with Darby from the other side to intervene and convince Capri’s friends to proceed with the party as planned. In order to appease the wrath of the undead diva, Darby must emerge from her self-imposed exile and reinvent herself — which along the way allows her to find new joy back in the land of the living.
Downs is enjoyably deadpan, and there’s a lot in this pop culture blender—a spoonful of Bring It On, a dash of She’s All That (or anything else with a popularity makeover) to go along with the supernatural tales it initially nods to. And Auli’i Cravalho—best known as the voice of Moana—is clearly having a good time playing an undead pain in the ass.
Director Silas Howard has largely worked in TV before this (his resume includes episodes of Dickinson and the new Quantum Leap); the screenplay is by Becca Greene (Good Vibes) from a story by Wenonah Wilms.
Darby and the Dead begins haunting Hulu on December 2nd.