May 6, 2019 BOO! (Movie Review)
It is always interesting whenever a Horror film centered around Halloween comes out in the middle of springtime. Whenever they come out during Halloween, perhaps audiences are slightly more keen to like them because they are already in that mindset. However, when it is released several months before, in April/May, we truly judge the film on its own merit. That in mind, BOO! made its way to select theaters and VOD on April 12th through Vertical Entertainment, eyeing a DVD release on May 14th through Lionsgate.
Directed by Luke Jaden, who made a name for himself with some notable short films starring strong recognizable faces such as LaKeith Stanfield, BOO! marks his debut feature film. Co-written by himself and Diane Michelle, it is a Detroit-based psychological supernatural ghost story centering on a struggling family on Halloween night who decide not to take part in a strange Halloween themed game left on their doorstep. As legend has it, it leaves a curse on those who choose not to play ever since a shocking incident occurred back in 1980. Sadly for this particular family, that is the choice they make which eventually causes evil spirits of all kinds to make them pay.
Now, let’s start with the good stuff. Luke Jaden’s control of dread is quite nice. From an eerie, yet rather unsuccessful prologue all the way to the final frame of piercing fiery eyes staring at us,
he manages to hold it throughout without skipping a beat. It would be difficult to say the dread works all the time, but it is nice to see a filmmaker grab a hold of something and stick to it. Additionally, there are also a few performances that stand out; Aurora Perrineau (Jem and the Holograms 2015, Truth or Dare 2018) as Morgan, the outcast daughter of this troubled family; Rob Zebrecky (Lost River 2014, A Ghost Story 2017) as James, her delusional religious father; and Jill Marie Jones (Sleepy Hollow series, Ash vs. Evil Dead series) as Elyse, an alcoholic overbearing mother.
Also, Charley Palmer Rothwell (Legend 2015, Darkest Hour 2017), who plays Morgan’s boyfriend Ashton, is wonderful but heavily under-used. At first, you suspect he is a total bastard, but quickly discover he is actually a decent dude overall. The best part of the film is this one intimate scene between Morgan and Ashton on a date against the wishes of Morgan’s mother. It’s grounded, it’s raw, it’s honest. It also feels like it’s coming out of an entirely different movie. If only their relationship were expanded more, and Ashton had a bigger part in the story, then it might have had more of an impact.
Additionally, BOO! works the least whenever we get into the “spooky” scares and freakish imagery. Whether it is some annoying little recurring kid with eyes gouged out repeating “An eye for an eye!”or Morgan smashing her face against a mirror relentlessly. Now, the mirror scene, while watching, you might be thinking this is a highlight of the film. because it truly comes out of nowhere.
You just keep thinking the story is going to go somewhere because it is clearly being made by a filmmaker who understands cinematic language, yet it sadly never does. The chemistry between the main family is non-existent, the pacing is fine but not strong enough for what this film makes you think it has in store for you. Through it all, Aurora Perrineau manages to keep the film somewhat grounded and human, which is not an easy task given the fact that most of the characters around her seemed to be so awkwardly bad and at times forced.
Unfortunately there are just too many weak links here. That is not to say there are not some nice moments in BOO!, but none of it seemed to add up to anything, and by the end of it, you may just wonder to yourself, what was the point in any of it? For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives BOO! 2 out of 5 stars.