Into the Dark 12: Pure

“We all just want our dads to love us.”

Main Cast: Jahkara Smith and McKaley Miller

Director: Hannah McPherson

Well, that’s a bit unfortunate.  The final movie in the first year of Hulu’s Into the Dark series of holiday-themed movies is centered around Father/Daughter Day, which I’m pretty sure isn’t a legit recognized holiday on any calendar, but I love my daughters, so I will allow it, and this is the movie we get.

Don’t get me wrong, PURE isn’t a bad movie.  It’s just too bad that the story about fathers and daughters has to be about fathers forcing their daughters to go to purity camp where they sign a contract at the end to remain virgins until marriage and that the relationships between the fathers and daughters is so antagonistic.  NOT the experience I have had.  And I get it, the point of this movie is about empowerment and these girls stepping out of the shadows of their fathers’ influence.  But still.  Father/Daughter Day should be a good thing with bad things happening to the fathers and daughters and those fathers and daughters working together to overcome the monster.  I’m just saying…

In writer/director Hannah McPerson’s (SICKHOUSE) film, Shay (Jahkara Smith, “NOS4A2”) is only a few months into a new relationship with the father she never knew, attending purity camp with him and Jo (McKaley Miller, MA), Shay’s new sister.  And while it’s Shay’s first time, Jo has been here before and is so over it.  Lacey (Ciaro Bravo, “Big Time Rush”) and Kellyann (Annalisa Cochrane, “Cobra Kai”) make up the rest of Cabin 4, and we have our main cast.  And also there’s Pastor Seth, Lacey’s father, who wears a gun on his hip and insists girls are too easily swayed for their own good and must be looked after by their domineering fathers.

One night after lights out, Jo leads the other Cabin 4 girls to an empty cabin, presumably just off the camp property, where she meets up with her boyfriend, Jack, and his friends Gabe and Ryan.  Gabe takes a liking to Shay, but Shay’s busy looking for a feather to complete a ritual to summon forth Lilith, first wife of Adam, whom Pastor Seth, apparently, loves to tell the story of every year when camp starts.

See, the girls are here at camp because their fathers didn’t leave them a lot of choice and, well, as Jo says, “We all just want our dads to love us.”  But these girls are human girls who have thoughts of their own and sometimes girls just wanna have fun and sometimes that fun doesn’t consist of daily sermons where they’re told, over and over, what filthy little sluts they could potentially be if not for the ever-watchful eyes of their fathers, both on earth and in heaven.

And, hey, as a father, I’m all for purity and saving yourself for marriage, but as a father, this is not how you treat your daughters.

So the tension in PURE comes from the resentment each daughter feels toward their father, and McPherson makes sure to give all four girls a different conflict.  With Lacey, she has an ideal to live up to as the pastor’s daughter.  For Kellyann, her father micromanages her every move, makes her count calories and has her up every morning for a 5AM run.  With Jo, her dad had an affair and has moved his new daughter into the house with them, and now he’s talking about purity and saving yourself for marriage?  Hypocrite much?

Shay is just trying to navigate this new world, while also being plagued by nightmares about a mysterious woman in a black veil.

Oh, and also, did I mention, they performed a ritual to conjure Lilith?  I did?  Okay, cool, just making sure.  So Shay is having these visions everywhere she goes of this scary woman …

Yeah, you can figure out the rest for yourself.

I enjoyed PURE and can appreciate it as a horror movie, but the relationship these fathers had with their daughters is just so foreign to my experience with my own as to seem almost impossible.  I was, as they say, unable to suspend my disbelief.  Or rather, my disbelief came about because I couldn’t believe this many fathers all in one place had such terrible relationships with so many daughters all in one place.

Then again, it is entirely possible I am not the audience for PURE.  Maybe my daughters would have a different opinion.  Wait, nope, scratch that.  My older daughter would watch this and say “Um, yeah, that’s not how the father/daughter relationship works” and the younger daughter is very particular about her horror, so maybe wouldn’t watch it in the first place. Either way, right audience or not, this is the movie I was given to watch and review and this is my review: PURE is a good movie with moving performances and a terrifying message, if you’re the target audience.  For anyone else, anyone who isn’t a daughter with a tense relationship with your father, you’ll probably enjoy the movie, but it isn’t going to keep you awake at night or change your worldview in any measurable way.  It’s a movie.  That’s about it, I guess.

More Into the Dark

The Body ~ Flesh and Blood ~ Pooka! ~ New Year, New You ~ Down ~ Treehouse ~ I’m Just F*cking With You ~ All That We Destroy ~ They Come Knocking ~ Culture Shock ~ School Spirit

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