Pure concerns the adventures of Shay (Jahkara Smith), who along with her half-sister Jo (McKaley Miller) and father Kyle (Jim Klock), head out to one hell of a fucked-up retreat where women are dressed in white, lectured repeatedly on purity, and promise to their fathers that they won’t give up that cherry cobbler to any ol’ walkin’ hard on that comes their way until after marriage.
It’s all rather Draconian and Patriarchal, and the extreme methods employed by the smarmy, yet charismatic Pastor Seth (Scott Porter) (including an outre box which he uses to punish dissenters) don’t help matters.
Soon Shay, Jo and their new friends Kellyann (Annalisa Cochrane) and Lacey (Ciara Bravo) discover that all of Seth’s talk of Lilith and sins of the flesh made real are nothing compared to the supernatural evil that enters their lives after they perform a half-assed arcane ritual on the grounds of the revoltin’ retreat!
With it’s emphasis on father’s controlling the fates of their daughters, repressed rights for women, and oppressive religious control; Pure stands as the most socially conscious entry the Into the Dark series has offered, along with Gigi Saul Guerrero’s excellent entry Culture Shock… but while it is incredibly well-made, the overall result doesn’t quite measure up to Guerrero’s flick.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I loved the supernatural elements the film had to offer, and writer (along with an assist by Paul Fischer and Paul Davis)/director Hannah Macpherson definitely weaves a well spun yarn… but some of the material dives hard into trope territory and comes off a bit too on the nose without offering much new (although admittedly the Lilith bag is aces). Also, for a story that is very timely we get more than our fair share of olde timey jump scares, so your mileage may vary there depending.
On the plus side, the cast is excellent with Smith making for an engaging and personable lead, and Porter chewing the scenery as a villain you love to hate, while Bravo’s Lacey has the most devastating and impactful story in the entire film. Additionally, the climax to this thing is a nice slice of Carrie cum feminist empowerment and offers a satisfying wrap-up to the ghoulish goings-on.
All in all this is a fine fright flick with it’s heart and message in the right place… Pure is definitely worth your time, even if it isn’t the best Into the Dark has to give, and I look forward to what Macpherson brings us next!