Into the Dark: “Pooka Lives!” Review

As we’re all hunkered down in quarantine, Hulu’s Into the Dark saw fit to resurrect their creepiest character for this year’s Easter episode. After Pooka drove us all to madness in Christmas 2018, he’s back to bring Easter cheer and terror in “Pooka Lives!”

The Return of Our Favorite Villain
The film begins with the tragic and disturbing backstory of Pooka’s creator, thus cementing the titular villain’s curse. One year later, following the product fallout of Pooka, the company seeks to rebrand and relaunch in time for Easter.

Meanwhile, a disgraced writer seeks to lay low by returning to his hometown to stay with friends. He gets a job as a copywriter in the Pooka marketing department, all while a pompous YouTuber tries to make his life miserable.

Getting bored, he and his friends create a “Pooka Challenge” for the internet and it really takes off. But before long, Pooka himself reemerges (now with a grotesque sleek, rabbit-like appearance), wreaking havoc and killing people in his wake.

It really captures just how annoying and irritating some clickbait YouTubers can be…

Strong Foundation
So it’s up to this group of reunited old friends to take down this supernatural killer, whose power and weakness seems to be driven by social media.

One of the biggest highlights is the cast, which includes the likes of Malcolm Barrett, Felicia Day, and Wil Wheaton. The characters are meant to be old friends and it really does show.

Felicia Day needs to be in more things. It seems like she disappeared for a little while…

There’s a great deal of chemistry between them that feels natural, and for every reference they make to their past, it’s clear that there are many they’re not mentioning, that we know still happened. It’s hard to pull off a good ensemble, and this does it well.

The original “Pooka” story seemed to be very internal in nature. Essentially, it dealt with the insecurities and issues of one actor and how sanity and reality fell apart for him. Here, we get much more of Pooka as an external, and even national threat.

He’s definitely scarier this time around!

The True Villain
On the surface, this is all just a story of a supernatural being killing people, but there’s a truly fascinating subtext about the nature of communication and social media. It’s the internet challenge and the sharing of Pooka’s creepypasta that empowers him.

But it also proves to hold the key to his weakness, thus representing not only how addicted we are to social media, but how it can make or break careers or lives (much like the main character).

It’s as much a commentary/critique on pop culture as it is a horror film.

Honestly, the last few episodes of Into the Dark have ranged from passable (“Crawlers”) to downright boring/awful (“Midnight Kiss”/”My Valentine”), and “Pooka Lives!” is a welcome return to form, and return to quality that this series was once known for.

It may not have had too much to do with Easter, but “Pooka Lives!” is creepy and entertaining, and by far the best installment of Into the Dark since Christmas’ “Nasty Piece of Work”. It gives hope for the future and we can’t wait to see the next one for the next holiday!

Who’s doing the challenge?!

Into the Dark is streaming exclusively on Hulu.

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