Written by: Matt Patti | July 3rd, 2023
Bad Girl Boogey (Alice Maio Mackay, 2022) 2 out of 4 stars.
Have you ever wondered about the powers of inanimate objects? Do you believe that some objects are cursed or transmit special abilities to those who touch them? Is it possible that some objects can change the way we think or even enhance our worst attributes? In Australian horror film Bad Girl Boogey, a mask functions as one of these such objects, enabling the user to possess supernatural powers and making their worst thoughts become a reality. While this concept is explored quite well in the film, unfortunately all other aspects surrounding it do not work nearly as well, ultimately leading to the film’s downfall.
In Bad Girl Boogey, Angel (Lisa Fanto) and her friends are stalked by a masked killer. Angel’s mother was killed by someone many years prior wearing the same mask, so the situation is very personal to Angel. The killer seems to target LGBTQ youth almost exclusively, the mask perpetuating and escalating the hate that the individual feels towards the already marginalized group. Angel and her friends eventually decide to take the offensive and try to research the origins of the mask. They eventually trace it all the way back to Angel’s mom and discover a harrowing secret. Can they defeat the killer and end his reign of homophobic terror?
Bad Girl Boogey succeeds surprisingly well in all aspects involving the masked killer and the history of the mysterious mask. The mask design itself is very creepy and unsettling with an eerie expression on the face. Its backstory is very intriguing, as are the powers it grants its users. The kills in the film are all quite creative and some very gruesome while still managing to look real, which is an impressive feat. Also, the killer’s hate-fueled rampage is, unfortunately, very realistic and timely, fitting the hate that we see today. Finally, all scenes involving the killer are solidly tense, especially the conclusion of the film, which is filled with suspense.
So, a horror film hits the mark with the design of its killer—their powers, their motive—and provides creative kills and suspense every time the killer is on screen. What’s there not to like? Well, everything else, to be honest. The other characters in the film outside of the killer are all one-dimensional, unbelievably bland individuals that are not fleshed out nearly enough and offer very little in terms of intriguing dialogue. It was difficult at times to tell one character from another, as they all seem to act very much the same and no one stands out. It is also a bit difficult to understand the characters when they speak, as they tend to mumble and speak very quickly. Outside of the mumbling, the performances by the cast are fine, but they aren’t given much to work with or much to do at all to earn the audience’s full attention.
Beyond that, there are other issues in the film that weigh it down, as well. There are several instances of strange music choices that don’t fit the mood of the scene. In general, there are far too many musical montage scenes with unnecessary lighting effects that get old very fast. Also, far too much time is spent on the uninteresting characters. If the film focused more on the killer and the senseless violent acts of hatred, I think it would be much more attention-holding and I could forgive some forgettable characters. Instead, we primarily spend most of the time in the film with Angel and her friends as they do mundane activities and speak dull dialogue.
Bad Girl Boogey is so impressive with its horror aspects, and its underlying message is so relevant and rich, yet the total lack of any standout characters sinks it. Any moment where we spend time away from the masked killer is one where the viewer immediately loses interest. I do commend the filmmakers for producing a clever product to showcase how scary the world can be today and doing that via the vessel of a hateful-person-turned-deranged-killer, and it does resonate a bit. However, with its very expendable set of characters, it does not live up to its full potential.