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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Pooka! (2018)

An unemployed actor gets a break around the holidays when he is hired to portray the hottest new toy Pooka for the pop up store that is exclusively selling it. After a weird audition he is hired by the creepy guy in charge and gets right to work. He is given a tour of the warehouse full of dolls and then goes home with the costume. Here we meet his new neighbor Red. She is a bit mysterious and a little sad so you know that there is something going on there. He also sees a beautiful woman who he becomes enamored with. She has a young son who really wants a Pooka doll. He makes that happen and before you know it is dating her. 

Then things start to get weird. It seems like Pooka has a life of it’s own. Wilson, the actor, starts to see it moving around without him inside. Then he begins to see and hear things as well as having visions of his new lady friend as well as neighbor being hurt. Is he losing his mind or is there something sinister about Pooka and the company selling it? Will he be able to patch things up with his new lady friend and live happily ever after? Will I understand why everyone seemed to have loved this movie when it came out a few years ago and told me that I just had to watch it?

Spoiler warning. If you want to avoid these skip to the last paragraph for my final thoughts. Now onto the rest of the review. This movie was getting a lot of love a few years ago when it first hit Hulu. This is part of their Into the Dark Series. I’ve only watched a couple of them but did enjoy Crawlers though not as big of a big fan of School Spirit or Tentacles. To be entirely honest though the main reason I’ve avoided Pooka! is because of the director. I know that Nacho Vigalondo has his fans but after watching that movie Colossal I knew that his stuff wasn’t for me. 

The movie has a very confusing narrative that makes it hard to follow. I wasn’t quite sure as to what was happening as we jump from dreams to reality and back to dreams seemingly at random. I understand that some viewers dig this sort of thing but I’d rather my movies make more sense. And if you are going to go dreamlike and focus on the visuals then do so with abandon. While we do get some beautiful shots the movie keeps jumping back to reality or at least what passes for it within the narrative as it is presented. Basically, either go full “Argento” or don’t. Hopping back and forth doesn’t work. For a flick that is only eighty three minutes long it felt at times like a real chore to get thru. 

Pooka is creepy... I'll give them that.
Before anyone tries to hit me with the big twist at the end that is supposed to explain everything please don’t. We find out that nothing we just watched was real. Everyone in the movie are people that Wilson knows in is real life, one in which he is an asshole that yells at his wife and terrorizes his son. The people dying as the story plays out are all people he has killed in the car wreck and the story itself happens as he is lying on the ground having been ejected from the wreck. You know if I was supposed to feel sorry for Wilson, as the movie has been setting him up as a nice but confused man, then making him an abusive asshole who causes an accident that kills a bunch of folks isn’t the way to end it. Pooka! feels like a movie that is trying too hard to be clever and fails miserably at it. 

I know that people dig this movie and if you like it cool. I found Pooka! to be an overly complicated and in the end unsatisfying attempt to make a “smart” horror movie. I noticed that unlike any of the other Into the Dark flicks this one got a sequel. How the hell does that work given the big reveal at the end? God Damn It… I’m going to have to watch that one as well. Maybe in another five years though. Obviously, I’m not recommending this one. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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