seen Boo described in the pre-publicity
as "a richly atmospheric 'old-school' style shocker,"
I was both apprehensive and intrigued in equal measures.
Obviously we all react differently to any film,
and it could be said that as a long standing horror fan
I might look upon this one with more favourable eyes than
someone who is not. But there are horror fans and horror
fans. There are those, for instance, who will happily swallow
horror cinema in all its forms and get genuinely excited
when a movie follows the rules and delivers what they expect,
whereas there are others who are thoroughly bored of the
recycling process and yearn for works that innovate and
take the genre into new areas. I hail from the latter school.
So if we're going to be subjective, and I see no other way
to approach this, then I might as well cut to the chase – I was genuinely startled by how pissed off I was by Boo,
the debut feature of make-up and effects man Anthony C.
where do I start? OK, see if the plot excites you. A group
of teenagers decide to spend Halloween night in an abandoned
hospital which is reputed to be haunted. One of them has
gone ahead to rig up a few surprises for his friends, but
guess what, it really is haunted and... oh you can write
the rest yourself. Meanwhile, a concerned father enlists
the help of his cop friend and enters the hospital by an
alternative route in search of his daughter, who went up
there a few days earlier with some of her chums and hasn't
returned. Will the two groups meet up, do you think? The
hospital also has a history that one of girls is psychically
tuned to, something she is able to tap into at the climax
to confront the evil that lurks the corridors.
characters are the usual collection of undeveloped stock teenagers who've undergone a collective personality bypass,
making it impossible to care a hoot about any of the buggers
as they get scared, possessed, and blown to bits by their
former friends. A supremely duff script gives the performers
nothing to work with and adheres so closely to hoary genre
cliché that it offers not a single significant surprise. The dwindling party soon turn on each other, sex leads
to death, false alarms are used to set up later would-be
scares, worms fall out of the sleeves and trouser legs of
the undead, people stick their hands and even bodies into
places that just ask for something to happen... the list
goes on and on. A huge range of cinematic horror notables
are repeatedly and ineffectually referenced, and following
an unfunny and predictable riff on the opening of Scream,
we trot through borrowings from Halloween,
A Nightmare on Elm Street, The
Thing, Session 9, Prom
Night, The Exorcist, The
Amityville Horror, Ghost Story,
The Changeling, Jacob's Ladder,
The Evil Dead and a whole slew of other,
sometimes lesser titles that still manage to tower over this
ideas are conspicuously absent and situations are developed
to often through character stupidity, with a potentially life-saving
mobile phone smashed when the token party jock gets angry,
guns flying from hands and under heavy objects just when they
are needed, and an entire party unable to bypass a barrier
of stacked furniture that five minutes later takes them
just seconds to dismantle. Not that I cared by then whether
they lived or died, I just wanted them to do it quickly.
the end Boo neatly illustrates just why the American
horror film is in such creative freefall, all second-hand
ideas, recycled material, winking cliché and post-modernist
referencing, with not even a hint of originality or an understanding
of just what it is that makes great horror films actually
work. But my final complaint lies with the title – although
obviously trading on Scream (there's little
in the film that isn't trading on something), I'd have hoped
that a work entitled Boo would have come
close to making me jump just once.
1.78:1 and anamorphically enhanced, the transfer here is
for the most part very good, with colour, definition and
contrast all pleasing and grain only jumping into frame
when the light levels really drop. Light and dark are both
well reproduced, with black levels just how they should
5.1 soundtrack is good but not great, the inevitable blasts
of noise to accompany shock moments not hitting as hard
as they should, and opportunities are missed to freak out the
viewer from behind. American horror still has a lot to learn
from its Asian cousins about using sound to really creep
an audience out. Dolby 2.0 stereo is also available, but
loses out to the surround track.
disliked their film so much, I have to admit to being less
than enthusiastic about the notion of a Commentary by director Anthony C. Ferrante, producer David Alan, editor
Chris Conlee and co-producer Sheri Bryant (who curiously
is never formally identified). It is, however, a very lively
track that provides plenty of detail on specific sequences,
but suffers from a wearily familiar commentary curse that
has the filmmakers fawning over every detail and repeatedly
saying "I love that... [shot, line, effect, etc. etc.]."
It can become hard work for us non-fans, but is almost worth
sticking with for the genuinely funny couple of minutes
when the producers give the director a hard time about his
obsession with location geography.
Making of Boo (16:14) is an in-house produced
featurette, a combination of cast and crew interviews and
behind-the-scenes footage that plays like an EPK and occasionally
descends into backslapping. We are also assured that the
script was "very ambitious." So what happened,
the Special Effects of Boo (10:08) is produced
in exactly the same style as the making-of featurette, a
mixture of interview and behind-the-scenes footage. It doesn't
give a whole lot away, but is of interest.
Scare: Tales of the Linda Vista Hospital (6:04)
continues the multi-part featurette theme with a series
of spooky tales of working in the Hospital location told
by the cast and crew. One to be taken with a pinch of salt,
though it has to be said not all of the participants were
sucked in by the atmosphere of the place.
Alternate and Extended Scenes (approx. 17
mins total) features 10 such sequences that can be played
with or without a commentary by the director. These are
low resolution Avid outputs with timecode, and the commentary
here is useful for establishing why they were cut.
Boo Trailer (2:36) plays pretty
much how you'd expect.
aware that this film has its fans, those who hail from the
first school detailed at the top of this review. I, as you
may have gathered, am not one of them, and make no apologies
for that. For me this is a ghost train of a movie, randomly
hurling too-familiar horror imagery at the audience in the
mistaken belief that it will automatically be scary or atmospheric.
For an undemanding teen audience that may be enough, but
seasoned horror fans in search of new thrills will find
little if anything to excite them here.
by chance this is your cup of tea then Momentum's DVD delivers
the goods, with a solid transfer and a decent spattering
of extra features, including a lively if self-appreciative