"Pooka Lives" debuts on Hulu today, the sequel to last years "Pooka." Both are part of the Hulu/Blumhouse Into The Dark anthology series, with a different horror film every month loosely based around that month's big holiday. Many of the film's have been good to great, including "The Body," "New Year, New You," and a few others. None have left a mark like "Pooka" though. Fans went nuts for the doll in the film, while ignoring the muddled story and convoluted plot. Thankfully, the sequel does not follow the originals footsteps.
"Pooka Lives" Actually Tells a Story
The sequel opens with a bit of an origin story as we meet the dolls creator (Rachael Bloom) and her house full of Pooka. Her husband (Wil Wheaton) comes home and chastises her about letting the doll go now that a corporation has control of it. They want to change the look of Pooka, and she isn't having it. She loses it, and murders him and kills herself in the process. This is not a spoiler, as it plays into the main hook of the film itself, but Bloom and Wheaton are good in the short 5 minute scene.
We are then introduced to our main character Derrick (Malcom Barrett), a writer forced to move back after running afoul of a popular vlogger. He moves in with his friends (Jonah Ray, Felicia Day) and hangs out with long-time friends (Gavin Stenhouse, Lyndie Greenwood). During one of the hangouts, they create the "Pooka Challenge" to mess with the internet bullies that won't leave Derrick alone. What they don't know is that the challenge summons multiple murderous versions of Pooka, who begins to murder those for being NAUGHTY and summoning him.
This one is already miles ahead for telling a story. While the Pooka doll is awesome, that first episode was basically a fever dream strung together as an incoherent mess. So right off the bat, Pooka Lives feels different. This is arguably the best cast they have had, with all characters getting a chance to shine as well.
Day and Ray especially shine as a modern married couple that bicker and pick at each other but not from a bad place. Barrett is also good as our hero, although I think with a less-experienced cast he would have struggled to carry the film on his own. There are important messages here about online bullying, how jokes can get out of hand and get away from you, and ignoring the trolls on the net. Refreshing to see these messages in a horror film.
Hulu's Into The Dark: Pooka Lives is available to stream right now.