Into the Dark: Pooka – Film Review

When searching through films on Hulu to watch, you might pass by a horror film called Pooka.  Pooka is the latest installment of the Into the Dark series on Hulu.  The premise of the series is that each film is based around a specific holiday.  The first film, The Body, was centered around Halloween.  While the second, Flesh & Blood, was centered around Thanksgiving.  Pooka is themed around Christmas and surprisingly did not disappoint.

The concept of Pooka is one that I would not have attributed to a horror film in the slightest, which is part of why it is so clever.  The film centers around Wilson, played by Nyasha Hatendi, as an actor looking for his next role after moving to Los Angeles.  While auditioning for a role, which he believes to be for A Christmas Carol, he is abruptly stopped during his monologue and told to perform a dance of sorts.  He is then offered the role of the Pooka mascot to help sell the new toys craze sweeping the country.  He reluctantly accepts the offer and begins his work as the only Pooka actor.  The Pooka doll is a children’s toy that repeats phrases back it hears those around him say.  It is an odd toy, but given what children like these days, I can believe it would be something kids want. What makes it a bit creepy initially is that Pooka has “moods.”  Depending on the “mood” of Pooka, it will repeat the phrases it hears whenever it chooses to.  While this seems a little unsettling at first, the film uses it a few times for comedic effect.  As Wilson begins to embrace the role, peculiar noises and lights begin to haunt him when he is away from the Pooka suit causing him to become almost dependent on it.

The only solace Wilson seems to find is in that of the Pooka suit and in his job.  While his increasingly odd behavior becomes a bit of a concern for his new girlfriend, Melanie, and her son, Ty, Wilson starts to question reality and if there is something more with the Pooka suit he is constantly drawn to.

Pooka was a surprise as it was not what I would have expected going into it.  Wilson’s slow decent into madness and obsession with the Pooka suit create a bit of a slow burn for the film.  This is not a typical horror film as a standard slasher, or ghost story.  It is more cerebral and constantly picks up speed until the conclusion reveals how and why everything is happening to Wilson and those around him.

Overall, I found Pooka to be an excellent film as it was different than other horror films lately and provided a fresh story that was well thought out.  The costume of Pooka was unique and a little creepy even though it was supposed to be a children’s toy.  What I found most interesting is that everything that happens to Wilson had a purpose that is revealed in the climax of the film. 

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