Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
Produced by David E. Allen
Written by Anthony C. Ferrante
Director of Photograpy Carl Bartels
Music by Carey James and Alan Howarth
Cast: Trish Coren, M. Stven Felty, Jilon Ghai & Nicole Rayburn
2005/97 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 Anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Kismet Entertainment DVD
It's easy to assume that film directors are under a great deal of pressure when they are making a movie. They have been entrusted with someone else's money in order to deliver a coherent/entertaining/bankable film. Now, imagine that you are a writer who has spent your entire career commenting on and critiquing the films of others and you are now stepping up to the plate to direct your first feature-length film. That pressure must be incredible. Longtime "Fangoria" contributor Anthony C. Ferrante shows that he's done his homework with the film BOO. The movie may not be very original, but it's packed full of the things which make horror films worth watching.
BOO takes place on Halloween night. Jessie (Trish Coren) is convinced by her boyfriend, Kevin (Jilon Ghai), that it would be fun to explore a local hospital which is rumored to be haunted. Trish, who is a bit superstitious about Halloween night, is hesitant at first, but she eventually gives in and, joined by friends Freddy (Josh Holt) and Marie (Nicole Rayburn), they leave for the hospital. Unbeknownst to Jessie and Marie, Emmet (Happy Mahaney) has already entered the hospital in order to rigs some scary gags.
Meanwhile, Allan (Michael Samluk) is concerned about his sister Meg (Rachel Melvin), who has disappeared. He contacts an old family friend, police officer Arlo Ray Baines (Dig Wayne). Allan reports that Meg had gone with a group of friends to the hospital and never returned. When Arlo is hesitant to pursue this matter, Allan takes matters into his own hands and decides to explore the hospital himself.
Soon, all of the characters find themselves trapped inside the hospital, which is indeed haunted. The sinister ghosts constantly follow and torment their captors and eventually begin to mimic their actions. As the group is eliminated one-by-one, Meg begins to recall facts about her mother and their connection to the hospital. These memories may be the only thing which can help the others get out alive.
Watching BOO is a lot like eating your favorite meal. Yes, you've had it before, and there's nothing new about it, but it's still good. It could be debated that Ferrante is either playing it smart or playing it safe here, as he doesn't try to make BOO anything experimental or unfamiliar. Instead, he's clearly plying his years of experience as a writer and as a special effects consultant and makes BOO a pastiche of familiar horror themes. The movie never feels like a rip-off of one specific film, but it does pay homage to such well-known titles as HALLOWEEN and THE SHINING, while it also contains elements of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999) and JU-ON.
The fact that BOO lacks in originality may be a turn-off to some, but what Ferrante loses in new ideas, he makes up for in sheer bravado. Unlike recent "haunted hospital" entries MADHOUSE or ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED, BOO is never boring. The ghosts in the film are very active and they are constantly scaring or possessing their victims. The movie also contains many different horror elements, as one scene will be creepy (that thing in the closet what rather odd) or gory as bodies explode right and left in the movie. There's nothing nightmare-inducing in BOO, but there are some memorable shots. And despite the campy title, the film never wanders into camp land. There are some jokes and a couple of nods at the stupidity of characters in horror movies, but the film plays it straight for the most part and it isn't scared to kill off most of the cast. Ferrante gets good performances out of his young cast, especially lead Trish Coren, who resembles a cross between Reese Witherspoon and Monica Potter.
The only real problem with BOO is that the ending becomes a bit convoluted and tangential, reminding me of many Stephen King novels. Ferrante writes himself into a corner and the final confrontation with the ghosts becomes confusing and anti-climatic.
With Halloween approaching, BOO is a good choice for those looking for some simple scares. The film reminded me of the independent horror films of the 80s, as it eschews pretentiousness and simply wants to be a scare machine.
BOO haunts DVD courtesy of Kismet Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. (The DVD box states that a 4:3 Full Screen version is also on the DVD, but I saw no menu option for this.) The image is fairly sharp and clear and looks good for a low-budget independent film. (Which, by the way, was actually shot on film.) The picture does show the occasional defect from the source material, mostly small white scratches. Most of the film occurs in very dark spaces, but the image here is never too dark and the action is always visible. I didn't notice any grain on the image, nor were there any overt artifacting or edge-enhancement problems. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provide clear dialogue with no evidence of hissing or distortion. The sound effects and musical score sound fine. The track provides a nice array of surround sound and subwoofer effects. They don't have as much presence as some other Dolby tracks, but they never overtake the dialogue.
The BOO DVD contains a small assortment of extras. We start with an "Audio Commentary" featuring writer/director Anthony C. Ferrante, producers David E. Allen & Sheri Bryant, and editor Chris Conlee. This is a pretty good commentary, as Ferrante and Allen do most of the talking. (At one point, Conlee says "I'm not sure why I'm here...") They talk at length about the production of the film, sharing many stories about the hospital shooting location. "The Making of BOO" (16 minutes) features interviews with Ferrante and the producers, as they discuss the origins of the script, and then we get comments from the cast, as they talk about what shooting the film was like. VFX Supervisor Michael Shelton and Make-up FX Supervisor Kevin Wasner take us "Inside the Special Effects of BOO" (10 minutes). Although this touches on CGI effects, it mostly tackles the special effects make-up. The cast & crew share their experiences of shooting in an abandoned hospital in "Intensive Scare: Tales of the Linda Vista Hospital" (6 minutes). I was disappointed by this feature, as I'd hoped to learn more about the history of the hospital. Finally, the DVD contains 10 "Deleted, Alternate, & Extended Scenes" which offer optional director's commentary. The scenes contain some interesting moments, but no new information.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©