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[Popcorn Frights] BAD GIRL BOOGEY Review – Fringe Culture, Mental Health, and Queer Horror

Breanna Lucci says Bad Girl Boogey is a confusing experience failing to elicit much more than frustration at its physically sickening production value, disingenuous themes, and plot points.

BAD GIRL BOOGEY (2022) co-written and directed by Alice Maio Mackay world premiered at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival.
Courtesy of Alice Maio Mackay

Transgender writer and director Alice Maio Mackay’s second full-length feature, Bad Girl Boogey, co-written with Benjamin Pahl Robinson, is a grab bag of gore, queer horror, and cinematic chaos. The Australian slasher focuses on teenage fringe culture and strives to be thought-provoking for audiences. Starring Lisa Fanto and Iris Mcerlean, it leverages the exploration of mental health and bullying as an allegory to expose common challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

Angel (Fanto) is no stranger to tragedy. Years earlier, her mother was brutally murdered, and the masked killer has never been apprehended. Angel’s never-ending grief results in self-harm and drug use, and her friends Dario (Mcerlean) and Iris try to keep her busy. During one drug-fueled evening of partying, Iris goes outside to smoke and finds herself face-to-face with the same masked killer that murdered Angel’s mom. Iris meets a bloody end, and it’s up to Angel and Dario to figure out the masked killer’s identity and them once and for all.

While the film has notable themes and tackles concepts that undoubtedly need attention and care, it stumbles in its delivery. Angel struggles throughout the narrative with depression, anxiety, and self-harm. While relatable, the film’s approach presents these issues without authentic substance. Angel doesn’t show any growth or revelation of their mental health issues. Instead, they appear to be for shock value and then forgotten.

BAD GIRL BOOGEY (2022) co-written and directed by Alice Maio Mackay world premiered at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival.
Courtesy of Alice Maio Mackay

Bad Girl Boogey discusses violence against the LGBTQ+ community and unfortunately, it fails to address things adequately while trying to do the themes justice. Besides their final moments, the characters slain by the killer are nothing more than fodder for gore and chaos. Their deaths appear to serve no purpose and the film fails to deliver a plausible reason for its violence.

The production is disorienting, distracting, and challenging to understand with confusing and excessively long montages and strange indecisive cut scenes during character discussions—evoking violent motion sickness. The audio is fuzzy and hard to decipher, and the camera work is shaky and inconsistent. While the performances are decent, the lackluster production overpowers them. Mackay is an incredibly promising young filmmaker, unfortunately, Bad Girl Boogey elicits frustration, and misses the mark.

Bad Girl Boogey world premiered at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival on August 20, 2022.



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