Directed by: Luke Jaden
Starring: Aurora Perrineau, Jaden Piner, Jill Marie Jones, Rob Zabrecky, Charley Palmer Rothwell
On the morning of Halloween, a mixed-race family receives a prank message saying they have been "Boo'ed", and that they need to pass on the "curse" before midnight or they will suffer supernatural consequences. While the youngest, Caleb, is very disturbed by this, his deeply religious father dismisses it out of hand. However later that night, each of them is confronted by a malevolent spirit…
There are certain films which can hook you with their very first image. I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER and LET HER OUT are two prime examples of this - hitting you with a shot that entices the eye and draws you into the film immediately. Then there are others which take an initial scene to play out - the remake of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN with its long tracking shot, for example. BOO! Falls into this second category. It's prologue begins with a long rotating shot of kids in costume, trick-or-treating, establishing the time, then an aerial tracking shot of a car, slowly making its way through the suburban streets, while ominous synth score builds the tension. It is a great start to an interersting take on the haunted house genre.
The most interesting aspect to BOO! Is the family front and centre in the film. The father, James is a deeply religious man who frustrated by his family's lack of Faith. Daughter Morgan is a beautiful young woman who had tried to commit suicide when younger and is in a state of rebellion against her parents (who seem pretty damn liberal, especially when they learn she's got a tattoo). Mother Elyse has a dark secret which has led her to anti-depressants and alcohol to cope. And then there is Caleb, the youngest, who has to deal with all of this on a daily basis. It's clear from the drawings and sculptures he's created in his room that he has a very dark imagination already, and now his dad's actions have allowed a ghost into their home…
Seeing how isolated each family member is from the rest should make them easy pickings for a ghost that uses their dark secrets against them to mess with their heads and allow him to control them. However each proves just a little bit more resilient than you'd expect. Two of my favourite reaction shots come from Elyse and Morgan, when they are confronted with something spooky - Morgan pops her head into a room and is confronted with a doppelganger floating in mid-air - her reaction is to immediately slam the door closed! When Elyse spots a pram sitting in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, she immediately runs away! Unfortunately these reactions aren't consistent throughout the film but these moments were quite refreshing.
What the film is lacking is some context. We get to learn a little bit more about the events of the prologue (turned into an urban legend by kids) but there is no further explanation of the curse or the spirit that is haunting them. The spirit remains pretty vague throughout the film, which gives the film-makers carte-blanche as to what it can or can't do.
From a filmatism point of view, this is very well put together. The synth score by Jon Natchez is great and at times evokes both Halloween and Mandy. As mentioned above there are some very artistic moments with framing and tracking shots, and the way certain characters are shot makes you start to wonder who's going to be the first to break.
Although the scares are pretty conventional and the ghostly presence ill-defined, BOO! Manages to bring enough originality to the table to make it stand out. Technically well-made, with strong production values and a cast given some good background and motivation to feast on, there is much to keep you entertained here.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)
BOO! will be available to download on June 17th, from platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Sony, Sky Store