That is some seriously festive Halloween horror movie poster art. I couldn’t ask for anything better (especially anything that reminds me more of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). Of course, I could ask for something better in terms of the movie that accompanies that art.
Damn me all the way to hell for doing something I rarely do these days—blind buy. Look for Boo! 2019 on ebay in a day or two if you must own it. I thought I had taught myself a while back never to trust that horror filmmakers are guaranteed to take me for a thrill ride. I guess I slipped this time.
Not to be confused with the 2005 Boo, which takes place on Halloween in an old hospital, this Boo! takes place in a home on Halloween.
Let’s get the Halloween atmosphere issue out of the way immediately. The opener promises plenty of it, with the streets loaded with trick or treaters at night on Halloween 1980.
That’s about the extent of the Halloween spirit you’re going to get.
We meet a family in the modern day on Halloween night. It’s a mixed race family consisting of a white dad and daughter and a black mom and son, so I’m not sure what the deal is here. Is this a new millennium Brady Bunch situation or did the couple magically give birth to one white and one black kid? Does that happen?
The drab house definitely sets the tone of just how drab this movie is. As if we don’t have enough of it going around right now, the dad is a religious wing nut. Ugh. Yet somehow everyone else in the family isn’t. The daughter shows off her new tattoo. The son believes in the supernatural. And the mom comes across as the only realistic character, because she’s a depressed mess. Why did she even marry this dude in the first place? It just seems totally unfathomable that a father of a household could believe in an imaginary spirit in the sky so deeply, yet everyone else basically dances circles around him mocking his beliefs just by being normal. Either this entire family would be a bunch of submissive religious freaks, or the dad would have killed them by now for not living by the Bible.
It’s Halloween, the doorbell rings, and dad finds a “boo bag” on the front steps. It’s like a chain letter; do what it says or suffer the consequences. The son spirals into a state of paranoia when dad decides to burn the bag of tomfoolery instead of heeding the warning.
Of course dad hates Halloween, so…he goes to an absurdly dark library, the daughter basically flips mom the finger and says she’s going out to have fun (she sits in a car with her boyfriend the whole night—they have sex to make at least something interesting happen), mom goes out to walk the streets, and the terrified son is left alone in his bedroom to panic while waiting for the boo bag curse to get him.
For a good stretch of the film, NOTHING HAPPENS. I wish I could call it a slow burn, but it’s just a depiction of a bunch of unhappy people that aren’t well drawn enough for us to feel anything for them.
Eventually they each start experiencing some weird shit, all of which turns out to be just hallucinations—but to satiate horror fans, there’s a good dose of gore—you know, hallucinatory gore. Seriously, almost everything that happens in the film is a hallucination, so bye bye fear factor.
The family at last reunites in the home for the final act, dad and son have a brief discussion about the “urban legend” from which the boo bag stems, which clears up nothing, and then everyone begins hallucinating more. The only thing that isn’t a hallucination is the completely unnecessary thing that happens to the dog. Why can I suddenly not get away from harmed dog situations in horror since I lost my little Miss Fine a month ago?
Boo! feels like a typical modern day haunting movie without any of the haunting actually being real. This mainstream trend of cliché haunting movies is painfully unscary when the hauntings are real, so why go the nothing is real route for a majority of the film?
There’s a much praised creepy scene involving a View-Master (what current day family still has a View-Master laying around? I’m the queen of having all my old toys around me all the time, yet I don’t even have my View-Master anymore), then something genuinely supernatural apparently happens in the very last moment. Nothing that comes before it explains it, and I simply can’t be frightened by it because it had 90 minutes to scare me but didn’t even try. That shit might work in a 5-minute short you find on YouTube, but it’s simply not enough pay off after giving a film 5×18 minutes of my life.
Basically, this is a movie about an miserable family that finally gets put out of that misery by a demon we never see at the end. I think.