Hulu’s Into the Dark: Pure review

Hulu’s Into the Dark series tackles the weighty issue of a woman’s right to control her body with their latest entry, Pure.

Last October, Hulu began releasing movies for their Into the Dark series. The series comes from Blumhouse television and has given us a new movie every month. Each entry has a theme tied to a holiday or event that takes place that month.

The entry for this month, Pure, appears to be loosely tied to Labor Day. You aren’t supposed to wear white after Labor Day, so that’s the perfect time for a movie called Pure to be released featuring young women in all white dresses.

Pure has a lot working for it, and I must say, of the ones I’ve seen, this is my favorite entry in the series. Like its predecessor Culture Shock, Pure has a lot to say about today’s society and political climate. We’ve seen a wave of far-right ideology becoming commonplace and in some places becoming law. Where Culture Shock covers the immigration issue, Pure focuses on women and their bodies.

It’s a heavy topic and could have been mismanaged, but I think Pure covers it in a smart way that doesn’t stray from the reality of the situation and hurt its point.

The Story

In Pure, we are introduced to Shay, played by Jahkara Smith (NOS4A2) in just her second role, as she wakes up from a dream. She has been united with her father after not knowing who he was all of her life. Her father, Kyle (Jim Klock) has another daughter named Jo (McKaley Miller, recently seen in Ma) and he is taking his girls to a purity retreat. Basically, the girls are going to this Christian camp with their father to pledge their intent to remain “pure” until marriage.

Jo has been doing this her whole life so she’s over it, but Shay is trying to build a relationship with her father so she’s giving it a chance. They meet other girls who are at different levels of agreement with this whole retreat.

Every year at this retreat, the pastor tells the story of Lilith to steer them away from being promiscuous. Lilith is not in the Christian bible but is a demon in the Jewish faith. As the pastor tells it, she was the original first woman, but after she was found fornicating, God banished her to hell. It’s an intense story and it seems to startle Shay to hear this right away.

However, that doesn’t stop the girls from doing a spell to summon Lilith when they sneak to a cabin in the woods with a group of boys. Immediately after, Shay starts seeing weird things as it appears their attempt to summon Lilith was successful.

Is it scary?

Pure works the thriller aspect in two regards. On one hand, you have the supernatural part. We don’t know Lilith’s intentions and she keeps appearing ominously after the ritual. The movie is full of jump scares which some people don’t like, but they didn’t bother me here so much.

On top of the supernatural aspect, you have a group of young girls sneaking around in the woods and hoping not to be caught doing so by their fathers. The fathers in the group have the vibe of cult leaders, and the pastor carries a gun so we don’t know what they’re capable of. We also see several girls disappear and come back seemingly broken and we don’t know what’s happening to them.

For me, it also added another layer that Shay is a young woman of color and most of the people here are not. This includes her father and sister. She feels like an outsider in more than one way.

Does the message get across?

I really think it does. As I mentioned earlier, Pure does a good job of showing us people who think like this without making them seem like caricatures. Often in films made about people who disagree with the writer’s way of thinking, they tend to go too far in making them look bad. In this case, the ideology alone is enough. There are a minority of people who truly feel the way the men in this movie do, but the majority already see this level of control as monstrous and off-putting.

Besides the language, the way certain situations are handled and then the images created, Pure does a great job of hitting the hypocrisy head-on. The girls question why boys aren’t held to the same standards of purity and also question why it’s just the girls and their fathers who are allowed to this retreat. The whole vibe is cringy!

Overall

From the very beginning of Pure, I was given Midsommar vibes. You have an outsider entering a deeply religious group and trying to fit in. You have women wearing all white, at one point in crowns of flowers. Then you have the music, the wilderness, and the state of constant dread. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would consider it a “must watch” if you are looking for something on Hulu.

Pure is now streaming on Hulu along with the other 11 Into the Dark entries. 

Next: Into the Dark: School Spirit review
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