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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Review: Pooka Lives!

Director: Alejandro Brugués
Screenplay: Ryan Copple
Year: 2020

“Pooka Lives!” is the newest entry to the series of horror episodes/movies “Into The Dark”, a collaborative effort between Blumhouse Television and Hulu. Every episode on the series is inspired by a celebration and in this case, it if Easter Day which gives life to “Pooka Lives!”, a sequel to “Pooka”, an episode from the first season. If you have not seen “Pooka” worry not, because “Pooka Lives!” does not depends on its predecessor and can be understood and enjoyed perfectly without having seen the previous one.

Pooka is a toy that has gained plenty of popularity among children and adults but with a dark past involving the death of its creator. A group of adult friends creates a fake story about a ritual that brings the toy to life and post it on the internet as an inoffensive joke. However, the story becomes true and Pooka starts to claim the lives of those who perform the ritual. 

The plot of “Pooka Lives!” is simple and always remains clear on what it wants to be: a fun horror comedy to have a good time with. Director Alejandro Brugués (“Juan of the Dead”), by having this present, allows that the rest of the actions spin around this silly scope without taking itself too seriously and just looking to be fun. This is the right decision because there is no other way to successfully tell a story of a toy that comes to life through a ritual and that it can be taken as something serious or possible (“Child’s Play” and how its franchise has evolved are the perfect example for this).

The characters in this kind of movie are essential and in “Pooka Lives!” they hit the mark both in how the characters are constructed in the script, as well as with the acting. The script of Ryan Copple (“Death Do Us Part”) presents a fun group of characters that complement each other, and this is reflected in the work of the actors. Without being exceptional, the work of the cast composed by Malcolm Barrett (“Timeless”), Lyndie Greenwood (“Sleepy Hollow”), Felicia Day (“The Guild”), and Jonah Ray (“The League”)  is great, particularly from the last two, who interpret a married couple that serves as comedic relief and that land every joke they employ. 

By seeing the toy this story is based on the first thing that comes to mind is asking how they are going to manage to make this design be scary when it is silly and adorable. The first time that we see Pooka attack someone it’s evident how ineffective this not-scary-at-all design really is, and it downplays its impact. The creator of “Pooka Lives!”, probably aware of this detail, offers several iterations of the toy that, while still being silly and a bit funny, manage to get that terrorific and effective aspect for a horror movie, or at least one of this kind.

“Pooka Lives!” is a movie that shouldn’t be taken too seriously but rather to disconnect the brain and enjoy it for what it is. It is absurd and predictable but at the same time fun and well-crafted in its own concept. The characters and the design of the toy with a look reminiscent of a rabid bunny are the icing on the cake and make it a great option to enjoy during the Easter period.

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