A well-executed homage to 70s slashers, “Bad Girl Boogey” is an indie horror film that feels both familiar and fresh — worth tuning in for.
Alice Maio Mackay is back with her signature slick and biting brand of horror with her newest feature film Bad Girl Boogey.
Mackay directed, produced, and co-wrote the film with her constant collaborator Ben Pahl Robinson. If you recall, the duo previously worked on So Vam together, as well as several shorts, including The Serpent’s Nest.
Bad Girl Boogey follows Angel (Lisa Fanto), whose mother was killed by a mask-wearing murderer on Halloween night 16 years prior. A killer wearing the same mask crops up again, mercilessly killing Angel’s best friend. Now Angel and what is left of her quickly dwindling friend group must uncover the identity of the killer and the nefarious secrets of the mask they wear.
Bad Girl Boogey has all the hallmarks of low-budget horror that audiences love.
It has all the grit of 70s Wes Craven with the bite of aughts films like Ginger Snaps and Jennifer’s Body. This is a slasher in all its glory but more in the tradition of Halloween (1978) and other late 70s slasher fare.
The film takes its time getting to know the characters, developing the main characters and their fears and struggles.
The nature of trauma is explored against the backdrop of candy-colored lighting and some unique serial killer lore. There’s a sense of creeping dread paired with some realistic and interesting teen angst.
Mackay is coming into her own as a feature film director and is shaping up to be a voice among Gen Z filmmakers. It’s impressive to see the strides she has made between So Vam and Bad Girl Boogey. Her career progression is genuinely exciting, and I cannot wait to see what her future holds.
It’s not every day you encounter directors that improve upon their own craft, deepening it in cerebral and thought-provoking ways.
Mackay understands the intersections between horror and real-life issues in a way that many adults over twice her age fail to. Her strong sense of style, horror know-how, and brisk understanding of human nature make the film compelling and fun.
Lisa Fanto makes an impressive turn as Angel, leading the film with confidence.
She allows Mackay to drag her into the depths of trauma, and the bond between the director and actor can be felt on screen. There’s a trust there that leads to a uniquely wrought story that looks at the repetitiveness of trauma and how old wounds have their ways of festering.
Iris Mcerlean is as fantastic as Dario, playing off of Fanto’s anxiety. Their chemistry as two friends desperate for answers is believable and elicits deep empathy.
Bad Girl Boogey has a few narrative lulls, but Mackay and Robinson pull the viewer back in with exciting storytelling and characters.
The concept of haunted masks isn’t necessarily new, but they make it feel fresh, and I could see them revisiting it in the future.
(In an alternate reality, I like to think this was made in the 70s, and we have like 16 installments.)
Alice Maio Mackay is indicative of horror’s bright future and a reminder it is in good hands. Bad Girl Boogey is the kind of movie that is reassuring, telling us all that the kids are better than just all right; they’re angry, and they won’t be silenced. They’re turning their truths into meditative art, and they’re having fun doing it.
I will be patiently awaiting the next Mackay movie on the horizon.
Count me as a fan, and consider checking out MacKay’s well-executed latest outing for yourself — the indie spirit is alive and well with this cast and crew.