Starring: Trish Coren, Rachel Harland, Jilon VanOver
Writer: Anthony C. Ferrante
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
4 friends --Jessie, Levin, Marie and Freddy-- go to the abandoned Santa Mira hospital on Halloween to party. 5 friends, if you wanna count Emmett, who went there earlier to set up some scares in the hallways. Around the same time, Allan shows up with Arlo, a cop buddy/ex actor of his late father, in search of his missing sister. They all run into each other on the doomed third floor, which used to be the mental institution area. The third floor is supposed to be off limits, but whatevs, we need a movie. Ghosts start showing up, people start getting trigger happy, Jessie starts seeing shit, walls start bleeding, the main ghost is a pedo, oh noes!
This is another one of those flicks I only watched one time when I fist got the DVD, but remembered liking it. Well, I don't now. I do respect Anthony C. Ferrante as a film maker and as a journalist, and I appreciate what he tries to accomplish in Boo. There's a lot of inspiration here, such as Ringu, Session 9, The Changeling, and I dig on that. I also dig when a picture is filmed somewhere that's largely rumored to be haunted. That always elevates my interest, and Linda Vista hospital is definitely said to be fucked the hell up. But then you hear the cast and crew talk about their experiences during production on the disc's special features, and I'm sorry, but it just all sounds like a load of shit. It's not that I don't believe there may have been some alarming energy there or on the set of umpteen other films said to be shot at a haunted location, it's just that sometimes I believe people will say fucking anything to build up the creep factor. I can dig that, especially if the movie in question is generally creepy. Boo mostly isn't. It's a bunch of already used ideas from other films, layered with jump scare sound effects that are supposed to make scenes more intense, but end up making them annoying. The ghosts in this film already had what it takes to make hairs stand up, and most of the time the atmosphere is killed by some loud obnoxious string of fast noise that makes your surround speakers shed fucking tears.
The movie is a nod to Carpenter's classic Halloween almost from the get go, with Jessie (the lovely Trish Coren) at her house --which has the address 1978, the release year of Carp's movie-- carnving a Jack-O-Lantern (which is shown POV from inside the pumpkin rather brilliantly), when she gets a call that's strikingly similar to Annie's infamous “chewing” call to Laurie Strode. Then, the town in which Boo takes place is Santa Mira, an obvious nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as Halloween III. I'm cool with that stuff. It's done with respect. Once at the hospital, though, it tends to get lazy. Bleeding walls, quick shaky ghosts accompanied by the jarring ass sound effects, etc... Now, it's not all bad; a few times the ghosts are effective and the scenes are given with little to no gimmicks, which makes certain moments fairly chilling. Most notably, the ghost of a little girl that's pale as paper (well, they are all pale as paper, really), with her head tilted and gleaming eyes that seem to burn right through your screen. Most of her scenes are pretty straight forward and genuine. Then there's the floating clown costume that's fucking freaky, too. Not used enough. The main creeper is where it's wasted. He could actually be shit your pants frightening without all the hyper frame edits that make him do that shaky shit. That shit ruled in Jacob's Ladder; people use the fuck out of anymore. I dunno, it all grew tiring after a while.
Camera work is not bad. There's a lot of cool sterile looking dreamlike sequences, and some bad ass wide shots outside of the abandoned hospital. The enhanced moonlit sky above the location looks pretty sweet, too. I also dug on a couple of cool 360 angling shots from the camera. A favorite scene would be when Jessie is running frantically through the hospital halls, while the whole place seems to be tearing itself to fucking pieces right behind her. There should have been more moments like that over all the cheese frame-defying specters. The cut frame stuff worked so effectively in Night of the Demons. Oh well.
Another thing that killed it was there not being a single goddamn likeable character. I was on board with the ex Blaxploitation actor 'Dynamite Jones' turned cop, Arlo, played by Dig Wayne. He was a pretty cool dude, and realistic to an extent. Then, he gets to the hospital and blows his intelligence completely. When the ghosts of the hospital are shot, they explode into guts and nothing else. ON THE FIRST SHOT. This asshole wastes about six bullets after one of the ghosts has already became smithereens. I'm not looking for straight logic in a horror film like this, but I'm not looking for fucking stupidity, either. Eh, this isn't the actor's fault, but I could no longer like the dude afterward. Everybody else... fuuuuck. The main crew of college kids, annoying as shit, even the heroine Jessie that I should be clinging to. Didn't care, Trish Coren is cute, but completely transparent in the role. I kinda liked Emmett, played by Happy Mahaney, even if he does look like a scientist's experiment using DNA from Justin Timberlake and Danny Masterson, but he's not around long enough for me to truly dig him. Freddy (Josh Holt) would be alright if he could get his head out of a girls ass who obviously gives not a shit about him. Dee Wallace Stone has a small role, but not enough depth to really love on the performance. Most of the characters overall blow and the acting is bland. I'm done in this area.
SFX are definitely one of Boo's strong points. Kevin Wasner is a fucking boss at creature effects. The skinned dog sequence looks awesome, reminiscent of Rob Bottin's work in Carpenter's The Thing. The dog is a mix visual and practical, actually a lot of work in this film is a mix, but the dog sequence works the best. The use of visual and practical on the ghosts looks pretty fucking corny, and the way the ghosts explode is laughable. Roll call: lame shaky ghosts, floating clown costume that drips maggots out of the pants, a character melts, a room of body parts, a dude punches a wall and his hand breaks and turns to mush, think pancake syrup like blood, and more. Loved the blood work, meh on the computer enhancements, save for the dog stuff.
Alan Howarth and Carey James' music could have been another strong point if put to more use. What there is sounds pretty fucking bad ass, but it's left in the dust for the most part. I'm all for the element of silence, as it's rarely done, but it should be used when there's a lot of uninteresting shit going on. I'd have rather had real film score in place of all that sound effect shit that I was crying about earlier.
Ultimately, Boo is pretty passable. Damn near a snoozefest at times. The intentions were in the right place, but the overall execution kinda fails. I thought the SFX were pretty cool, and all the homages here and there, but that wasn't enough to make up for the poor characters and overuse of cheap scares. Won't be wasting a day out of my favorite month on this one again.