Amidst the costumes, candy, decorations and overall commercialization of Halloween we often forget its dark origins. Origins rooted in the return of the spirits of the dead and rituals to appease them. Those rituals may have changed over the centuries, but they still exist and are to be ignored at your own peril. One family finds this out in BOO! the first feature from Luke Jaden.
BOO! opens with a prologue set in1980 involving a man, a photocopied sheet of paper with a ghost on it and a shotgun. We then jump forward to the present day, when a troubled family gets the same photocopied sheet left on their door. James (Rob Zabrecky DECAY, LOST RIVER), the family patriarch denounces it and Halloween as paganism and burns it, much to the distress of his son Caleb (Jaden Piner), who believes in the Boo! and its powers. Mother Elyse (Jill Marie Jones ASH VS EVIL DEAD) and daughter Morgan (Aurora Perrineau TRUTH OR DARE) are amused by the whole thing. Amused that is until it quickly becomes apparent that the curse is real and something malevolent has arrived.
Writers Jaden and Diane Michelle lay the family’s problems on so heavy that evil spirits seem like the least of their troubles. Elyse is a chain-smoking alcoholic with a medicine cabinet full of pills. Caleb is withdrawn and draws strange creepy images. James is obsessed with the bible. Morgan has relationship issues and suicidal thoughts. All of which the curse draws on for the apparitions and nightmares it sends them.
BOO! works up some genuinely creepy images and sequences but they’re overwhelmed at times by talky domestic drama. The film spends way to much time showing the characters smoking and bitching at each other. It shows too little of them dealing with whatever is stalking them. It’s not until the last twenty or so minutes that it builds any sustained tension or suspense It needs a stronger build-up to keep the audience engaged because that last stretch is a wild ride, but some viewers are going to have checked out by then.
BOO! made its world premiere at this year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and will be on the festival circuit looking for distribution. It’s an OK watch but nothing overly special, the kind of film you end up catching on Netflix or Shudder.