I'm sorry I have been away for so long horror fans and fiends. Not only have I been very busy with the holidays but there really hasn't been anything out recently that has really struck my fancy, nothing so good or so bad I felt compelled to write about it, until now. I put on the latest entry to the Into The Dark series on Hulu by Blumhouse with absolutely no excitement. I had very low expectations for this film. The two previous attempts were blase' at best. That's why I was so pleasantly surprised by the creativity and complex storytelling in Pooka!
So where to start...Okay, If you don't know Into The Dark is Hulu's holiday horror anthology series. Each month brings a new 90 minute long episode that has a completely different cast, writer, and directer. The first two episodes were very uninspired and honestly seemed more like bad lifetime movies than something produced by the Blumhouse team. Then out of no where we get the Christmas themed Pooka! which had a very different atmospheric tone. The film was able to take psychological terror to a very twisted and potent ending.
Written by Gerald Olson and directed by Nacho Vigalondo the story shows struggling actor Wilson (Nyasha Hatendi) accepting a very odd job as the man behind the hit toy Pooka!. Pooka, a is creepy looking bear (that everyone in the film calls cute) with giant light bulbs for eyes that can record and repeat things it hears. The key here is you never know what it will decide to repeat. The bear has both naught and nice settings but the bear gets to choose if it is going to be naughty or nice. The Pooka, in case you didn't know, is the Irish word for spirit or ghost. The belief being the spirit can be helpful or menacing depending on it's mood. The Pooka can take many forms but is often known to take the shape of a rabbit, as seen in the 1950 film Harvey with James Stewart.
The film disguises itself as one able split personalities, one about the duality of man.. but that isn't where this film is going. The ending will have you remembering details from the film that you didn't quite catch onto at first. It has at least two levels and even now I'm not sure exactly what happened. Not only that but visually the director used color and light to his advantage. The reds and blues allowing us to see the different ways things are or could be. . The story is not told in a linear way, although to catch that you must pay close attention. This maybe confusing to many viewers. As our hero Wilson begins to question reality we start to see the darkest parts of his soul. When the twist is revealed and the pieces start to come together, Hatendi's depth of emotion is stunning. The viewer always see's everything through Wilson’s eyes and at some point, we also start to question what is real. As I have read a few professional reviews on this film, I began to understand that many absolutely did not fully comprehend the story. This is the kind of film you really will want to watch at least twice.
I for one really loved this film. It's the kind of movie you think about long after the credits roll. It however may not be a film for those who are not fans of psychological horror. There is several layers to this film, different ways to interpret the ending and it's not a film you just put on in order to get a couple jump scares in. I may actually do a follow up to this article where i explain the film next week. For now I give Pooka! five stars and encourage horror fans to give it a shot this Christmas. Let me know what you guys thought of the film and your takes on the ending in the comments!