REVIEW: PURE finishes off Hulu’s Into The Dark with a reframing of The Craft through the lense of Christian purity balls.


Director Hannah McPherson delivers the final entry into Hulu and Blumhouse’s Into The Dark with an entry juxtaposing right-wing Christian fundamentalists with a mish-mash of The Craft and Carrie.

Into the Dark, Hulu and Blumhouse’s monthly horror film series has been largely a mixed bag in its first season of delivering films based on seasonal occasions. For every solid entry like All That We Destroy and Culture Shock, we get a few less successful ones like Pooka. The final entry for this season is director Hannah McPherson’s PURE, which is set in the world of fundamentalist Christianity and their unique events like Harvest festivals and purity balls. We follow Shay (Jahkara Smith) who has just been reconnected with the father she never knew, Kyle (Jim Klock) after the death of her mother. Shay competes for his affection with his other daughter and her half-sister, Jo (McKaley Miller). Shay was the result of an affair and now Kyle is a hardcore fundamentalist Christian who has been sending his daughter Jo to a Purity Ball for years to recommit her and her virginity to Christ and her father until she is married. This is Shay’s first trip to the Purity Ball and she is feeling like quite the outsider. But all the girls at this Christian retreat are seemingly outsiders. The retreat’s leader, Pastor Seth (Scott Porter) preaches for the girls to be submissive and obey their husband like Eve, not like the free spirit Lilith who was Adam’s first wife. But Jo and the other girls at the retreat look up Lilith and look to invoke her spirit, not knowing that Lilith has already made herself known to Shay and she’s not happy with the hypocrisy she sees at Pastor Seth’s compound.

PURE benefits strongly from a solid and compelling performance from Smith as Shay. She sells the unfortunate situation Shay finds herself convincingly, one of trying to find a place for herself in a mixed family that takes her in reluctantly. Similarly, Miller does a great job as Jo, having to balance the mean girl act with the reticence of being a rejected daughter in her father’s eyes instead of the favored position Shay finds herself in.

That being said, the movie cribs heavily from The Craft and Carrie far too much to the point where the viewer is really looking for more than a concept-driven film where the concept is this familiar. The curse of blood from Carrie and its famous prom scene finds an easy analogue in this film’s climax and even if the film leaned more heavily in its resemblance to The Craft with the Christian element in favor of pagan, it might have worked a bit better. The film’s ending promises a way of enlightenment through Lilith but you don’t walk away thinking that that is even a remotely tenable prospect. The film’s strong performances don’t bolster its flat story, which is all the more disappointing given how creepy the purity culture in fundamentalist Christianity is and what a large playground that potentially provides for social commentary.