High school can be frightening enough as it is.

But, in the new Hulu teen comedy film Darby and the Dead, it all gets taken up a notch. The movie, which centers on Riele Downs’ introvert Darby and her ability to see ghosts like Auli’i Cravalho’s Capri, balances supernatural elements with classic teen movie tropes.

“We have our North Stars that we wanted to pay reverence to, like Clueless and Mean Girls and Heathers. They all had these incredible, powerful women, but we wanted a fresh take on it,” Cravalho tells ABC Audio. “So, we have incredible diversity in these women, and they’re in positions of power. And we also wanted to talk about grief and what it looks like and how it has ripple effects.”

The cast still got to have all the classic teen movie moments, such as “the makeover,” “the walk down the hall,” and the classic “tossing of the hair” over the shoulder, Cravalho says, but they also got to focus on the deeper subject matter of grief as well.

“We also get characters like James, played by Asher Angel, who’s devastated by the loss of his girlfriend. And then we get to see Derek Luke, who plays Darby’s dad – the beautiful representation of a parent who’s understanding and emotionally available to talk about these sensitive subjects,” Cravalho says.

According to Downs, this complexity was completely intentional.

“We really put a lot of attention on creating layers for them and making them all have motivations. Nothing is by accident,” Downs says. “Knowing that they’re not just a stereotype and also there’s something in it for everyone.”  

Darby and the Dead will be available to stream Friday, December 2, only on Hulu.

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