“Timecrimes” and “Colossal” director Nacho Vigalondo doesn’t care in regards to the conventional guidelines of style, and he’s extremely prepared to push again towards viewers expectations. Quite a lot of filmmakers would have thrown up their palms on the very idea of “Colossal,” however he dives into the deep finish. Now, that doesn’t imply all of his risk-taking pays off—it’s inherent within the very concept that some dangers don’t flip into high quality artwork. However it might be good to see extra filmmakers and studios prepared to embrace the dangerous tasks that appear to attract Vigalondo.
Which brings us to “Into the Darkish: Pooka!,” the third installment in Hulu and Blumhouse’s month-to-month collection of holiday-themed horror movies. The primary two, “The Physique” and “Flesh & Blood” have been mediocre-to-bad. The primary had the type of concept that labored higher as a brief movie, and I’ll be sincere that I utterly wiped the second from my thoughts. I do know November was a really lengthy month for many of the world, nevertheless it’s an issue when your movie is that forgettable. I actually received’t neglect “Pooka!,” simply the very best of this collection to this point, even when all of the aforementioned dangers don’t convey vacation Christmas cheer.
The title refers back to the hottest new Christmas toy, a creepy doll with clean eyes and an oval mouth that repeats again what children say to it … if it feels prefer it. Generally it doesn’t repeat. Generally it repeats in a pleasant voice; generally it repeats in a creepy voice. As a guardian of three, let me inform you that youngsters like unusual issues, and it’s not exhausting to consider a temperamental creepy toy might be the yr’s hottest.
An out-of-work actor named Wilson (Nyasha Hatendi) goes to an audition, practising his monologue from “A Christmas Carol” on the way in which there. He doesn’t comprehend it but, however the audition is definitely for the enormous model of the Pooka. He’ll be the man within the go well with on the one retailer that sells the toy, repeating what children say and doing the creepy Pooka dance. In fact, Wilson will get the job, and his success provides him the boldness to speak to a fairly realtor he sees at a Christmas tree lot. Or does he? “Pooka!” begins off somewhat creepy and bizarre, after which Vigalondo and his group slowly flip up that facet of the movie, forcing to query if something we’re watching is even actual.
At first, it looks like “Pooka!” may be one other “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” story because the costumed model of the character seems to get increasingly more malevolent. Is Wilson letting out his darkish aspect behind the masks? Then it appears just like the Pooka could also be a completely totally different creature, current alongside Wilson. After which, properly, the vacation theme comes into play as “Pooka!” riffs on “Christmas Carol” in additional than simply audition monologue type. It’s a structurally loopy piece of screenwriting by Gerald Olson that someway melds Dickens with Vigalondo’s out-there fashion, throwing in simply sufficient blood and guts to maintain the Blumhouse model robust.
Whereas I like its ambition, “Pooka!” type of wears out its welcome earlier than it’s over. It’s been the issue with each “Into the Darkish” to this point, a collection that has made me miss Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” extra with every passing episode. That implausible collection compelled filmmakers to stay to 30-minute run occasions and the outcomes have been tense and taut. All three of the “Into the Darkish” movies to this point really feel like the other—30-minute concepts stretched to 80-plus. And the worst factor you are able to do to a style that depends so closely on rigidity is to stretch it out.
Nonetheless, there’s artistry at work in “Pooka!” that was missing within the first two movies, and the collection is on target, incomes a half-star extra from me with every launch. At this charge, they’ll be making masterpieces by Easter.