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Swarm's References To Iconic Horror Films Are Perfectly Executed

Contains spoilers for "Swarm" Season 1

Donald Glover's newest television series "Swarm" seamlessly blends horror with pop-culture references in an original and intriguing way. Inspired by the darkness of toxic fandom — particularly the hive-mind mentality of some fans — "Swarm" racks up horror references galore alongside its bloody body count. Throughout the series, Glover and his talented team pay homage to horror hits old and new, including subverting an iconic classic slasher. 

Glover, with co-creator Janine Nabers, recruits a talented cast and crew to tell this enthralling tale that features Chloe Bailey (Marissa), Damson Idris (Khalid), and Kiersey Clemons (Rashida). "Swarm" even counts Malia Obama among its sharp writers and brings Billie Eilish's on-screen acting debut to life as the creepy cult leader Eva.

From Alfred Hitchcock to Tobe Hooper to even Jordan Peele, "Swarm" expertly executes terrifying allusions to beloved films from the horror genre. As Dre (Dominique Fishback) falls deeper into despair, her delusions take over and she goes to extreme measures to protect her queen bee Ni'Jah (Nirine S. Brown). This draws intentional parallels to superstars like Beyoncé, including actual events that inspired the story — all of which makes the series even more chilling.

Dre exhibits killer qualities from Norman Bates and Leatherface

"Swarm" kicks off Dre's grisly murder spree with the savage beat-down of Khalid before she moves on to a series of targeted executions. Dre begins cyber stalking those who speak ill of her famous idol or her recently deceased friend Marissa, starting with the trash-talking mechanic Reggie (Atkins Estimond). Though she struggles to find him at first, Dre gets an unexpected surprise when out one evening with her fellow dancers. 

In Episode 2, titled "Honey," Dre and her friends' car breaks down and a handy visitor finds them stranded. While the other girls are thrilled with the assistance, they're not nearly as happy as Dre, who has finally found her target, Reggie. Once their car is repaired they plan to leave Reggie's home, but Dre goes back inside to finish the job. She hides outside Reggie's shower curtain like Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) targeting Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in Alfred Hitchcock's thrilling slasher "Psycho." However, "Swarm" subverts our expectations when Reggie arrives behind Dre and counters her attack, leading to an intense face-off. When it seems Dre may suffer a fate similar to Marion, our expectations get checked once again when the girls save her and shoot Reggie dead.

In the next episode, aptly titled "Taste," Dre hunts down an influencer named Caché (series writer Stephen Glover) in the opening sequence. She takes a page out of Leatherface's grimy book when she emerges from the doorway with a deadly hammer. This mirrors the sudden slaughter in Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" when Leatherface brutalizes Kirk (William Vail) in a similar way. Before bludgeoning Caché to death, Dre interrogates him over his favorite artist and punishes him for his comments against Ni'Jah, setting the unforgiving tone for the series. 

A cult inspires creepy parallels from Dre

As the dark first trailer for "Swarm" shows, Dre is the anti-hero of this story with an unflinching determination that exhibits her violent psychosis. In Episode 4 "Running Scared," we're grateful for this when she finds herself in the middle of a cult with a different kind of hive mentality. Led by the captivating blondie Eva (Billie Eilish), the group of like-minded girls form a tight-knit community marked by the intense branding scars they all share. 

When Dre gets some one-on-one time with the controlling leader, we learn that Eva manipulates the bunch through a technique similar to hypnotherapy. This instantly reminds us of Jordan Peele's groundbreaking film "Get Out" with striking parallels. Like Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), Dre is forced to relive her past trauma when Eva abuses her skills to hypnotically control Dre. Dre cries in a similar way to Chris when Eva manipulates her and exposes her villainous underbelly. This enrages Dre, who realizes what's happening and uses her deadly talents to free herself from their twisted clutches. 

The cherry on top of "Swarm's" reference to Peele's work is that it doesn't end with "Get Out." Eagle-eyed viewers will surely notice the similarities between Dre's crocheted red jumpsuit and the standout crimson wardrobes featured in Peele's follow-up film, "Us." This event reinforces the themes of racial oppression evident in "Running Scared," which Dre overcomes like Peele's memorable characters.