Thursday, January 2, 2020

Movie Review: INTO THE DARK: POOKA! (2018)

Christmas-themed horror films are nothing new, with recent films like Krampus and Rare Exports gaining a strong following, and classics like the original Black Christmas, which launched the slasher genre of the 1970’s. So it’s no surprise that when Hulu launched their “Into The Dark” anthology film series, which included one new film each month centered around a holiday or significant event during that month, that Christmas would be tackled in December. And that’s where Pooka comes in.

Pooka is the story of a struggling actor who takes on a seasonal holiday job as the mascot for the year's hottest new toy: Pooka. However, after putting the costume on, he develops two personalities - one for himself, and one for Pooka.

When I first came across these “Into The Dark” films, I honestly didn’t have high hopes. Even with Blumhouse behind these, they just didn’t look like they’d be all that good. I’ve seen three before this, one I really liked (The Body), one that was just alright (Treehouse), and one I didn’t really care for (Flesh & Blood), so going into this, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get, although knowing that it was directed by Nacho Vigalondo, the mind behind Colossal, I was hoping for something interesting. And this film is definitely interesting, if nothing else.

I loved the design of this creepy robot bear thing, as it made me uneasy every time it was on screen. Whether it was Wilson in the full outfit or just one part, I never felt fully comfortable with it, and that’s key for good horror flick.  Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a “good” movie, as it was definitely messy at times and it tried to wrap things up way too quickly that it almost became confusing. However, it was an intriguing story, with some great cinematography, and kept me interested for most of the short runtime.

The performances were decent, nothing stellar, but Nyasha Hatendi, who plays Wilson, did manage to bring some intensity to some of his later scenes that really stood out, especially as his psyche began to slip farther and farther away. We also got some good performances from Jon Daly and Dale Dickey, as they both really stood out in their respective scenes.

Overall, this wasn’t a terrible movie, but it also wasn’t as good as I was hoping for, especially with having a name like Jason Blum attached.  I understand that not every film can be a winner, so let’s hope the next installment does a better job.

The Merc’s Score: 5/10

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