Burn After Reading: Darren Gaskell Reviews Boo! (2019)

A dysfunctional, suburban family is left a “Boo!” in the opening minutes of, er, Boo! So, you may be asking, what’s a “Boo!” Well, a “Boo!” is a form of spooky chain letter which instructs its reader to make a copy of and deliver that to someone else, thus continuing the string of “Boo!” activities.

So, you may be asking, what happens if you ignore the “Boo!”? Well, if you ignore the “Boo!” then the story goes that you’re subsequently visited by spirits, intent on doing some very bad things. The youngest of the family, Caleb (Jaden Piner) is well up on these matters, referring to a previous unlucky recipient of the “Boo!” who didn’t heed the warnings and came to a very sticky end.

Despite Caleb’s willingness to get the “Boo!” business done and send it on to the next person, making it no longer either his or the family’s problem, his God-fearing father James (Rob Zabrecky) is having none of it, dismissing it all as nonsense and over-reacting ever so slightly by setting the “Boo!” note on fire. “Boo”-yah!

I’m going to stop it with the “Boo!” stuff now.


Okay, that was the last one. Promise.

And with that, the family goes about their usual business. James goes to work, Caleb’s sister Morgan (Aurora Perrineau) sneaks off to see her boyfriend instead of babysitting her brother, while mother Elyse (Jill Marie Jones) heads to the local bar to drown her various sorrows. This leaves Caleb at home, waiting for the supernatural forces to arrive.

And arrive they do, but not quite at the pace you might expect. As the various members of the family go about their business, they’re visited by apparitions which represent events from the past which still haunt them in the present. This makes for a couple of jolts and the eerie atmosphere begins to build but it does feel a little like the movie treads water up until about an hour in and everything comes to a head back at the family home.

The last act does ramp up the tension and the action, throwing in a splash or two of gore as the “Boo!” (sorry, had to put that one in) takes full effect but for me it all came a little too late in the proceedings for it to truly succeed, ending on a note that is both true to the plot and yet utterly throwaway at the same time.

The main issue I had with the film was that the story moves as such a sedate pace that much of the tension it manages to generate in certain scenes and there’s an overriding feeling that the main characters aren’t going to be in genuine peril until the last 20 minutes. I hate it when I’m right about that sort of thing.

Still, the performances are fine – Aurora Perrineau in particular – and the family dynamics are dramatically fraught enough without tipping over into ridiculousness. Ten minutes off the running time would have worked better for me, the elements are there for an enjoyable spooky ride but the build up is just too leisurely for its own good.

Yay? Boo? Kind of neither.

Rating: 2 / 5

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Invite me on your podcast if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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