Directed by: Daniel Farrands
Premise: Very loosely based on the life of Aileen Wuornos. In the mid-1970s, Wuornos (Peyton List) marries a wealthy older man (Tobin Bell) but her violent and erratic urges get the better of her.
What Works: Aileen Wuornos: American Boogywoman comes from filmmaker Daniel Farrands who previously wrote and directed 2019’s The Haunting of Sharon Tate. This is not nearly as crass or exploitative as his Sharon Tate movie. The film achieves a badness that could attract a cult audience in the same way as The Room.
What Doesn’t: While American Boogywoman is not quite as bad as The Haunting of Sharon Tate it is just as sloppy and stupid. The film is allegedly based on true events but nothing in American Boogywoman is believable. It’s supposed to take place in the mid-1970s but it doesn’t look of that decade. The filmmakers don’t even try to recreate the time period. The story is premised upon Aileen Wuornos’ brief marriage to wealthy yacht club president Lewis Fell played Tobin Bell. At no point is it believable that these people like or even lust for each other. There is no chemistry at all between Peyton List and Tobin Bell in part because the filmmakers don’t put them in any romantic situations. There’s also no seduction one way or the other. The two of them meet and a couple scenes later they are married. The film is bookended by Wuornos giving a last-minute interview before her execution. The filmmakers acknowledge that her narration is unreliable but then take everything she says at face value. As Wuornos, actor Peyton List gives a performance so far over the top that she recalls Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. Her accent and gait are gross exaggerations of human behavior and the makeup appliances she wears in the interview segments are embarrassingly unconvincing.
Bottom Line: Aileen Wuornos: American Boogywoman is not the first film to exploit a serial killer nor will it be the last. But that’s no excuse for the film’s sloppiness. There’s a chance American Boogywoman might attract a cult audience but they will be laughing at the movie, not with it.
Episode: #890 (February 6, 2022)