From The Pile: Boo! (2018)

SEPTEMBER 21, 2022


While most "Pile" movies are acquired for free (trivia, unsolicited mailings) every now and then I head over to the local Dollar Tree and scoop up a few. It's not the main purpose of my journey; I don't want to sound mean but it's often a place I can find movies I did the credits for, and since "end title creator" is not on the shortlist of people the producers will gift a copy to, I grab them when I see them here (or Big Lots, or whatever) for my pitiful little collection of movies I worked on. And so since I'm there anyway and will be waiting in line, I occasionally grab something like Boo!, which looked reasonably entertaining enough to hand over the princely sum of one dollar to find out if it was.

Alas, it was not.

The concept is fine: it's Halloween night and someone has left a chain letter (called a Boo) at their door, with the standard "Pass it on or you'll be cursed" message. However, this particular house's patriarch is a righteous Christian man (real fire and brimstone type) who refuses to celebrate Halloween due to its pagan connections, and promptly burns the letter. This being a horror movie, creepy things will now happen to him, his wife, and his two children (one college-aged, the other like 12) until they pass the curse on or whatever, right?

Well, sure (emphasis on the "or whatever"). Unfortunately it takes a very, very long time for this to happen, and in the meantime we just watch endless scenes of the younger kid drawing, the mother smoking or drinking, and the teen girl sneaking out with her boyfriend. Sometimes they have visions of scary things happening (for example when the mom, out for another smoke break, sees a baby carriage in the middle of the street out of nowhere) but after a couple we realize that they're just that: visions. Nothing ACTUALLY happens in this movie until the final few minutes, by which point any reasonable viewer - even those who only paid a dollar for the damn thing - would have checked out.

It doesn't help that it shares surface details to Hereditary (whether they're coincidental or, well, NOT coincidental is unknown; it's shot almost entirely in one house and had its first public screening nine months after Ari Aster's film did, so it's certainly possible), right down to the four family members looking absolutely nothing alike. And as with that film, the family has some secrets and resentments, all of which come out in stressful situations, but not ONCE does anyone go for a car ride and get their head knocked off, or crawl on the ceiling, so I kept wondering why I was watching a very low key wannabe when the real deal (which I didn't love either, to be clear) had enough memorable insanity for two or more movies anyway.

Ultimately I walked away with two things. One: the Madea Boo! might have actually been scarier (it was certainly more fun to watch) and two. the DVD cover's blurb "From the executive producer of Insidious" was doing them no favors, because this film's director is no James Wan, and its cast lacked anyone with the presence of Rose Byrne or Lin Shaye, and the writer wasn't Leigh Whannell, and... you get the idea. Not that I ever put any stock into those things ("From the producer" is second only to "From the studio" when it comes to the most worthless attempts at a selling point), but certainly others were duped into thinking it'd be of the same level of quality or scare quotient. And some of them might have paid more than a buck.

Oh and it barely has any Halloween flavor whatsoever so it's not even worth it on that level.

What say you?


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