Anthony C. Ferrante has made a big splash with his manic shark/disaster flick series Sharknado (review here) but, it was his freshman feature, the 2005 Boo, that first got my attention and I decided to look back at the horror flick that got Ferrante his start, now that his delirious shark filled flick has become a household word…
Boo takes place on Halloween night as two young couples, Jessie (Trish Coren) and her cheating boyfriend Kevin (Jilon VanOver) with bad girl Marie (Nicole Rayburn) and the nice guy she’s leading on, Freddy (Josh Holt), are planning to spend a spooky night at the abandoned and supposedly haunted, Santa Mira Hospital. The ominous building was closed down many years ago when a fire broke out in the 3rd floor psychiatric ward and many died. Unknown to all but Kevin, their friend Emmett (Happy Mahaney) has entered the structure first to rig a few surprises, but he finds out the hard way that faux scares are not needed here. The stories are true and the place is haunted by quite a few spirits including deranged pedophile, Jacob (M. Steven Felty) who seeks a human body to posses and escape his eternal torment. Also entering the structure is Allan (Michael Samluk) who is searching for his sister Meg (Rachel Melvin) who disappeared a few days earlier and is rumored to have gone in there with friends. Allan enlists the aid of Arlo (Dig Wayne), a cop who was Allan’s deceased father’s partner, to help search. It’s no secret to say that their stories will collide and that they are all in for a rough night.
As you can tell from the plot description, one of the things that holds this fun little horror back is a plot that is a bit too busy at times. For at least half of the movie there are two separate story-lines going on before the two groups meet and this is more distracting then helpful as the going back and forth breaks up any built tension. Writer/director Ferrante shows a lot of promise with his Halloween set horror and he gives us quite a few spooky scenes and he has a really nice visual style that gives the film added atmosphere and makes good use of his creepy location. He is also a young filmmaker with a lot of ideas and tries to pour a lot of them into his first film. Sometimes less is more, as Boo would have been better served with a more streamlined story. One group of six instead of two groups with their own story-lines would have gotten this tale from A to B equally well without a lot of story baggage. Wayne’s cop character is totally unnecessary, as is giving him a background as an ex-actor from a series of Dolemite style movies. He and his backstory do nothing to serve the plot. Pretty Jessie is also psychic and it seems this only serves to give the film the exposition needed on the hospital’s past and the identity of the spirits they are dealing with. It does work, but is also a bit of an obvious plot contrivance. As said, Ferrante has a lot of ideas here, some work… such as the backstory involving the evil Jacob and the valiant nurse (horror icon Dee Wallace) who gives her life to insure he never escapes…and some don’t…such as a silly sequence where Jessie tries to convince Jacob that the peace of death is better then living again. It goes nowhere and falls flat.
There is still plenty to like here and I can appreciate a first time filmmaker being a little over eager to show us what he’s got. An overload of ideas actually worked in Sharknado‘s favor, but not as well here. The film does have plenty of spooky scenes to equalize the silly, some really good, but not overused gore and despite some bad dialog, cheesy CGI and mediocre acting, the film does have a sense of fun that’s not unintentional. Ferrante seems to really enjoy telling his horror tale and this does come through as you watch.
For all it’s flaws I still think Boo is kinda fun and it’s director is having fun bringing his tale to life. That and the obvious potential for better things helped me to cut him some slack with this flick. Go in not expecting a classic and Boo can be an entertaining viewing. Ferrante also earned film geek points for naming two characters Russell and Carpenter.