J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Into the Dark: Pure


If there is one ironclad rule of horror movies, it would have to be camps will always be the setting for massacres. It doesn’t matter if it is a chastity camp. The Rules are the rules. In fact, those hypocritical fundamentalists preaching against promiscuity are likely to get it harder than your garden variety randy teenager. Such will indeed be the case during Hannah Macpherson’s Pure, the latest installment of Blumhouse’s Into the Dark, which premieres today on Hulu.

Even though she is in her late teens, this is Shay’s first visit to virginity camp. That is because she only recently joined the family. She was the love child Kyle never knew he had, until her mother died. That doesn’t sound very virtuous, but Macpherson and co-writers Paul Davis and Paul Fischer unsubtly suggest guys get a pass on these kind of things from their fellow fundies.

Regardless, the novelty of having of father still has not worn off for Shay, whereas her new half-sister Jo is recklessly rebellious. The virginity camp veteran is also obsessed with the mythical figure of Lilith, who figures prominently in one of Pastor’s Seth’s notorious opening day sermons. According to the apocryphal tales, Lilith was Adam’s first wife, who was damned to Hell for her faithlessness, but later returned to marry Frasier Crane. Seeing her as a figure of empowerment, Jo sets out to raise Lilith in an occult ceremony, which is most likely quite successful judging from Shay’s subsequent visions. With the Christian patriarchy acting uglier and uglier, a reckoning is sure to come.

Ironically, the makers of Pure unambiguously suggest Evangelical Christians are sex-obsessed, two-faced, emotionally abusive, and prone to violence, yet Team Pure would also be the first to accuse fundamentalists of demonizing anyone who does not share their values. Seriously folks, can’t we all just get along?

Frankly, Pure is even less subtle than Ready or Not and Satanic Panic (opening today in theaters), but it lacks even a fraction of those films’ wit. It is a shame Pure goes so polemical, because Jahkara Smith portrays Shay as a highly sympathetic and complex horror movie protag, while McKaly Miller (from Ma) makes Jo quite an entertaining hot mess.

Maybe not so surprisingly, Pure openly invites viewers to side with a demon over a group of fathers, who unforgivably believe premarital sex would be the wrong life decision for their daughters. Of course, it was the intolerant patriarchy that labeled Lilith a demon in the first place. It is all so kneejerk, it gets rather boring—and that really is a sin. Not recommended, Pure starts streaming today (9/6) on Hulu.

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