At first glance, Bad Girl Boogey seems to have all the hallmarks of a formulaic teens-in-peril slasher, but don’t be fooled by appearances, Bad Girl Boogey is more than just another slasher rehash.
Beneath the surface, Director/Co-writer Alice Maio Mackay’s low-budget indie horror film has vital messages about society, that are chillingly relevant today. The film functions as a disturbing look at the ugliness that still festers in some hearts and minds today, even as society makes strides toward openness.
Bad Girl Boogey tells the story of one fateful Halloween night many years ago. On that night, a group of friends broke into an abandoned house that was rumored to belong to a man involved in the occult. While exploring the house, one of the friends discovered an ancient, menacing mask and out of curiosity tried it on, unwittingly unleashing an unspeakable evil. Possessed by the sinister force within the mask, they brutally slaughtered their friends in a horrific bloodbath.
Years later the same mask mysteriously resurfaced and another unfortunate soul, unwittingly made the same terrible mistake of donning the mask, driving them to go on a similar killing spree.
Now, the mask has emerged again and Angel and their friends have attracted its cursed attention. After a night of partying, Angel’s friend Lila wanders off into the night and crosses paths with a killer wearing the mask, who murders her in cold blood.
As this new killer continues their rampage, more and more of Angel’s friends find themselves victims at the hand of this murderer’s twisted scheme.
As Angel begins to investigate the sinister history of the mask, they begin to learn that the mask doesn’t make you kill – it releases the demons already inside you. The occultist’s mask is a parasite that unleashes humanity’s darkest rage and thirst for violence. Its magic frees the wearer to become the monster they were meant to be.
Armed with this knowledge, Angel and their surviving friend, prepare to take the fight to a killer who seems hell-bent on adding Angel to their growing body count.
On this night, the darkest evils of humanity are unleashed, and it’s up to an Angel to stop them.
When approaching a lower-budget indie horror film like Bad Girl Boogey, it’s important for audiences to judge it based on the qualities that make any film genuinely compelling – a strong story, original ideas, captivating dialogue, and complex characters – rather than surface elements like acting, effects or production values.
On these fronts, Mackay succeeds in crafting a clever, thought-provoking film that initially disguises itself as a conventional slasher film, but it actually examines the lingering hatred and bigotry that still plagues society today. In 2023, many of us would like to believe open-mindedness and acceptance have prevailed – but the film reminds us that for some, old prejudices die hard.
When the unpleasant truth is revealed about the sinister roots of the evil force haunting the mask, it serves as a chilling metaphor for the darkness that continues to fester in human hearts and minds.
While Mackay’s passion and socially-conscious aims are laudable, Bad Girl Boogey is not without its flaws. The constrained budget and short runtime (under 80 minutes) result in some narrative shortcomings that dampen its impact.
Specifically, the film relies too heavily on expository “information dumps” at the expense of building suspense and letting revelations unfold gradually. Lengthy scenes of characters explaining the sinister backstory and metaphors behind the evil mask feel rushed when more time developing mystery and dread would have been effective. With a longer runtime, Mackay could have allowed her compelling ideas to unfold more slowly and organically rather than cramming dense exposition into a few blunt conversations.
Because so much of the mask’s meaning is bluntly “told” to the audience rather than chillingly “shown,” Bad Girl Boogey feels hurried whereas lingering in its spookier and more unsettling elements would have benefited the story.
Still, for a low-budget slasher, Bad Girl Boogey displays admirable ambition in Mackay’s smart repurposing of genre conventions and desire to make her audience think.
There is no doubt Mackay’s original voice and talents as a socially-conscious storyteller will only grow stronger over time and it’s clear that Mackay is an indie filmmaker to watch.