Pooka! is a Hulu original feature-length episode from its Into the Dark series, and follows an aspiring actor who dons a furry monster suit that promotes the latest holiday season toy trend, which boasts the gimmick of having uncontrollable emotional responses. He slowly starts to lose his sanity as the line between himself and the suit blends together.
Pooka! is a Jekyll and Hyde (has anybody ever spelled that correctly without looking it up?) themed film that rarely offers anything fresh to the concept, but is otherwise entertaining and relevant. It certainly isn't short on the metaphors and symbolism throughout, but it still has an inherent psychedelic approach that is difficult to endure through the entire runtime.
When the horror elements of a film feel entirely encased within the mind of the protagonist, it takes a lot to pass that fear along to the viewer. When there is little physical danger posed, it can often deter an instinctive response in the audience. I struggled with that throughout this film, having a hard time caring where the plot was inevitably taking the lead.
I do want to give kudos to the director, who does a good job of telling the tale that at times reminded me of Starry Eyes meets Death to Smoochy (that last reference was lazy...just because there's a dude in a suit). Known in some circles for directing Colossal with Anne Hathaway, Nacho Vigalondo has a way of taking fantastical concepts to convey relevant subject matter that is eerily more terrifying than the fictional elements.
Pooka! is essentially all about the ending. The entirety of the film depends on its success. It makes the ebb and flow of the film have high peaks and low valleys. Some things that happen make more sense, while others feel less meaningful and pointless. Why did we get that scene? What's the point of this one now? But it overall resolves the key matters in a nice psychological thriller bow.
Pooka! was not a perfect film for me, but it did make me want to go back and check out the other entries in the Into the Dark series.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 6/10