Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Boo for "Boo"!

Welcome back sporefans. After a brief hiatus, we're back with a new review. This weeks terrible tale of terror is the 2005 release "Boo".

Boo is like many other horror movies. In fact, you'd swear that you've seen everything in this movie somewhere else before, only done better. The plot is about, now get this, "A handful of college students get trapped in a haunted hospital on Halloween." (from What? College students? Haunted Hospital? Halloween? Writer/Director Anthony C. Ferrante shows us the very cores of his talent with this movie: His advanced knowledge of cut and paste technology!

Right from the very start, Boo seeks to emulate better movies... well, better than compared to this movie anyway. The opening sequence introduces the main character Jessie Holden (played by Trish Coren) in a direct rip from "Scream". Jessie receives a "scary phone call" which turns out to be her boyfriend in a costume trying to get a cheap scare.

While the movie starts out by copying Scream, its mainly a doppelganger of the 1999 remake "House on Haunted Hill" starring Geoffrey Rush. Specifically, there's one guy who goes into the old haunted hospital (complete with its own asylum) to set up some scary tricks for a group of party guests. Unfortunately the ghosts are all too real and soon people wind up dying.


The party guests all get trapped inside as the ghost lurks about killing them off. The plots to both movies are almost identical. There is a bit of good dialogue right before the kids go into the hospital, but one good line doesn't save a movie, especially when the rest of the movie is full of bad dialogue.

"I hope we don't wind up being the kids who find out all those old ghost stories are real!"

As the movie shambles forth, the kiddies find themselves attacked by the reanimated bodies of their friends. Fortunately, when the reanimated bodies are shot, they explode spreading their gory contents over a large area and, on several occasions, over some poor schmuck who was standing in the wrong place. Maybe this movie should have been called "Goo".

Things fall apart faster than in the novel by the same name as Jessie tries to find the meaning behind her "visions", which give her insight into the motives of the mentally unstable apparitions. Her mother, played by Tricia Novak makes repeated appearances and it is alluded that she was a nurse who worked in the asylum when the fatal fire broke out. The plot here is obviously also "borrowed" from House on Haunted Hill, and casting Tricia Novak can also be interpreted as "borrowed", as she also plays a mother in the horror movie "Director's Cut", which is the only other full length picture Novak has appeared in.

In the misnomered climax, Jesse confronts the ghost of Jacob who was the inmate who started the fire in an attempt to escape. The masterful plan is probably one of the worst ideas ever to grace a screen. One of the remaining party members sarcastically states "We're afraid of ghosts because they're dead. Maybe they're afraid of us because we're alive."

Using flawless logic, Ferrante decides that this is the crux of his movie and has Jessie confront the insane ghost with "the fear of living", in the most literal way possible. Jesse offers to allow the ghost to take over her living body instead of the body of a corpse and then shows him visions of the pain of life. Oooooooooh! Scary!

Man, this shower is really dirty.

Somehow, beyond all reason, this seems to works, and the ghost of Jacob flees Jessie's body. This flimsy and overly emotional ending is nauseating and implausible, even by the standards of a horror movie. Accepting exploding corpses and ghosts seems easy when compared to trying to make an audience believe that the ghost of a man, who was once alive himself, is afraid of living. I'm sure that's exactly what was going through Linda Blair's mind as she was playing Regan in "The Exorcist".

Ferrante might as well have had his protagonist defeat the evil spirits with the power of love by invoking a "Care Bears Stare". I would have easily been more entertained and satisfied with the outcome of this movie if a beam of rainbow colored light shot out of Trish Coren's chest, but sadly this was not the case.

This movie is not without its small redemption's. The cinematographer, Carl Bartels, is quite talented, and the mood set in the film is creepy as long as there are no actors on screen. While Bartels is talented, there is one shot that is a direct rip from a key scene in the little known movie "Session 9". Its the shot of a dark hallway with a chair facing an open door on the left. The lighting and setup are exactly the same as in Session 9, though whether this was the idea of Bartels or another of Ferrante's "borrowed" ideas is a mystery.

The main caveat of this movie is the sub-character played by Dig Wayne. Wanye plays detective Arlo Baines in the movie who spent some time as an actor before joining the police force. The character played by Arlo Baines is "Dynamite Jones", who appears in a short, Spanish language segment in the beginning of the movie.

In the scene Baines is ordering his dinner to go when he notices that one of his movies is playing on the TV in the diner. The "movie" is about how Dynamite Jones (played by Baines who, in turn, is played by Wayne), star or many Blaxplotation movies, fights a Blacula to save a girl from being bitten and drained of blood. Dynamite uses his signature move: lighting a strike anywhere match and kicking it across the screen. The match lodges in the Blacula's sizable afro and he catches fire.

In several scenes in the rest of "Boo", Baines tries to replicate the trick, even at one time pouring liquor over the body of a possessed and kicking the match to ignite it and save the day.

He fails miserably ever time.

Other than the work of Bartels and the mini-movie, Boo is a literal carbon copy of previously existing horror movies. If you've seen Scream, House on Haunted Hill and Session 9, you have also seen everything Boo has to offer, only in context and, well... good. Boo doesn't even fall into the "so bad, its good" category as it just lulls by like a cross country road trip: flat, boring, and full of cow pies.

In all honesty I have to admit that this movie does have one other thing going for it. Well, two other things actually, as seen above.


k said...

yay! for once i actually knew 75% of your contextual references! i'm learning! v. good review! :P

Spored_to_Death said...

A lot of people are asking me what the picture is for the link to "visions". Those are sugarplums. But will they dance in your head?