The LGBTQ+ unfortunately don’t need to retreat into the silver screen to encounter horror; in the modern world, there are plenty of people eager to make life a living hell for queer folk. However, Australian wunderkind director Alice Maio Mackay’s newest effort, Bad Girl Boogey, deftly uses LGBTQ+ experiences as a source of horror and shows us what happens when your run-of-the-mill homophobe/transphobe gets a little help from a cursed mask once used by a Nazi with a profound hatred of LGBTQ+ folk: tons and tons of gore and violence.
Bad Girl Boogey is the story of Angel, your average high school outcast who lives with her aunt after her mother is killed when she’s a child. When Angel’s friend, Lila, is brutally murdered after a night out on the town, Angel uncovers a string of murders in which LGBTQ+ folk were the victims, and it apparently all started just before her mother was killed.
This movie is a lean, muscular, no nonsense slasher. Sure, there’s a touch of mythos behind the mask the killer wears, but for the most part, the pacing is swift and efficient with little downtime. It has everything you want in a solid slasher: intense kills, a masked killer, red herrings left and right, apathetic adults, inept police (although, much like in real life, when it comes to violence against queer folk, it’s less “ineptitude” and more “who gives a shit?” from cops). Visually, it’s a neon-soaked dive into the queer nightlife of Adelaide, all reds and blues, pinks and greens. Mackay’s decision to cast trans and queer actors makes the film that much more realistic and tragic, given that violence against them is unfortunately an everyday possibility for this demographic. You honestly feel as if you’re being given a brief insight into the lives of people living under this threat. The mask itself is unsettling enough to look at, but the killer constantly doing the corny nu metal head tilt gets real old, real quick. We get it, bro, you like Slipknot. Just chill the fuck out already.
The most chilling aspect of Bad Girl Boogey is that the killer is merely using a mask that takes away your inhibitions. It doesn’t make you do anything, it simply removes the natural hesitance most people have towards violence against another human being. They are someone who needs no help in hating queer folk, but rather need one final push towards physical violence against them because of whatever stupid, backwards ass reasoning they have towards hating them. The very fact that they can’t hurt someone without assistance and seek out that very assistance is arguably the scariest thing about this film.
Bad Girl Boogey is quite a good film, but it’s also a sobering reminder that we live in a world where pronouns are a punchline, trans folk are constantly under threat of violence from brain-rotted idiots who think there’s a global conspiracy to systematically molest children, and many people would be all too happy to murder queer people if given the opportunity. One only has to look at laws being passed across the US to see the horrifying reality that could come true. In that regard, a mask worn by a Nazi occultist (who I think is mentioned to be gay themselves at some point, so that’s fun?) is almost a laughably inept villain.