Into the Dark: Pooka Lives!

01/07/2021 06:32

Film: Into the Dark: Pooka Lives!

Year: 2020

Director: Alejandro Brugués

Writer: Ryan Copple

Starring: Malcolm Barrett, Lyndie Greenwood and Felicia Day



The reason I checked this movie out was 2 fold. For my podcast of Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast, I like to pair up a 2020 film with an older film that has a theme. Since Pooka! was a Christmas movie, I could pair this one as the new film from this year. Much like the original, I didn’t really know much about this one aside from bringing Pooka back. The synopsis is a group of thirty-something friends from high school create their own Creepypasta about Pooka for laughs, but are shocked when it becomes so viral on the internet that it actually manifests more murderous version of the creature.

We start this movie out with Ellie (Rachel Bloom) who is the creator of the original toy of Pooka. She was fired and her husband comes home, quite upset to learn about this. I believe he is David (Wil Wheaton). Things don’t go well as he takes his rage out on the toys which causes Ellie to snap. She stabs him to death before setting herself, his body and the house on fire.

The movie then shifts us to Derrick (Malcolm Barrett). He’s driving and we see that his phone is being blown up on social media. The messages he is getting though aren’t good. He has been living in New York City as a writer. He made the mistake of coming after a popular influencer of Jax (Motoki Maxted) who is now having him canceled. Lucky for Derrick, his friend of Molly (Felicia Day) and her husband of Matt (Jonah Ray) are letting him stay with them until this blows over. The problem is that it requires him to come back to his hometown of Spring Valley. He’s not thrilled at this idea as time is much slower there.

Derrick lucks out getting a job with SCI, which is the company behind the Pooka toy. Also working there is his ex of Susan (Lyndie Greenwood). They are still pretty cordial and the feelings are there too. They also have a friend of Bennie Taylor (Gavin Stenhouse) who is a local deputy.

Despite returning home, Jax is still after him with his followers. Derrick ends up with a stalker that is messing with his life. Derrick comes up with an idea though while hanging out with Susan, Molly, Matt and Bennie. It is to mess with the internet by creating their own ‘Momo-Creepypasta’ like post. They come up with the Pooka challenge. Jax helps it spread unknowingly, but this ritual might actually be conjuring up these much scarier versions of the children’s toy of Pooka.

That’s where I want to leave my recap of this movie as I feel that gets you up to speed with what this sequel is doing. What I will say, I’m so glad that they took a different route to what this movie was doing. I established in my review of Pooka! that it was more of a psychological thriller, where this one takes us into the supernatural. I’m actually glad that they stuck to this concept as well. Before delving into some of the story elements, I was a bit confused as to when this movie is taking place to the original. I’m guessing that this is indeed a sequel. The original toy failed, so now they’re unveiling a new one. There is something else that would be spoiler to the original that I don’t want to delve into here. They don’t really factor in the first movie so you don’t technically need to see them to understand both.

Well into this movie we reveal an idea of what Pooka could be here. Molly brings up that there is a Tulpa, which she explains is that Buddhist monks are able to will an entity into existence. They normally aren’t scary like we get here, but she does state that they cannot be control once they’re brought into our world. By having this ritual of Pooka go viral, there are so many people on the internet believing in it that it starts to come to life and killing people. This is akin to what is established in later the A Nightmare on Elm Street films where Freddy gets his power.

This is where I think the movie loses itself just a bit. The whole concept of Pooka is that it can be nice or naughty. The movie would have been better served for me if it doesn’t punish all of those that conjure it. This turns it into a take on ‘Bloody Mary’ or ‘Candyman’. It would have been nice to see it attack those that truly deserve it. The movie could still have it coming after our main group of people, just have them reveal different things that Pooka could be punishing them for. I guess the truth here would be that we all commit sins that we could probably be punished for. The other explanation is that as the lore goes out of control with people changing it, it is possible that Pooka could be punishing anyone who conjures it like we get. Ellie ties back into this as well which also helps to reinforce why everyone is punished.

What I did like here as well was the social commentary. This movie is looking and partially poking fun at ‘Cancel Culture’. I thought Derrick did something bad to have Jax after him, but it seems like Derrick wrote a book pointing out the problems with influencers like Jax and he’s acting childish having his followers try to destroy Derrick’s life. It is completely horrible to do to someone who doesn’t really deserve it. Susan though does point out that Derrick could just delete his social media profiles, but he refuses to. It is showing us that he is partially addicted to it, hence why what Jax is doing is ruining him. To be honest though, I have considered redoing my social medias in the past, but it is so much work to re-establish what I already have. Having seen the dangers of it, I also don’t care enough either.

Since I’ve delved a bit into the characters themselves, I think next I’ll look at the performances. I think that Barrett is solid as our lead here. Susan points out things about him that he’s never considered. He needs the growth to become a better person since he isn’t that much different from Jax. I really liked Greenwood, Day, Ray and Stenhouse as the rest of the group. They’re all distinct and bring their own spin to their roles to set them apart. I would also say that the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed, shout-outs to the actors who portray different version of Pooka as well.

The effects are where I should take this here. I will say, I really liked what they did with Pooka. There seems to be two different, scary versions of it. One is more animalistic where another is more demonic. These both look to be done practically which I can appreciate for sure. The use of the red filters on the light also helps here. I do know this one did shy away from showing us blood and some of the attacks. I think a lot of this is Blumhouse TV and being made for Hulu. I would liked to see a bit more, but what we saw was good.

That’s all I really wanted to say about this sequel. I think that they took the story to a place that they should as the original doesn’t need its story being expanded anymore. I like taking this supernatural and incorporating social commentary on ‘cancel culture’ and things going viral on the internet. I thought the acting was solid for what was needed. The effects were about the same as well and the soundtrack fit. If there is anything I would have liked to see more of the deaths and attacks, but I get why we don’t. Overall I’d say that this is above average overall. This movie for me was a bit of a step down from the original, but not by much.


My Rating: 6.5 out of 10