November 2, 2005
Stephen T. Kay,
Starring: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Tory Mussett, Andrew Glover, Lucy Lawless, Charles Mesure, Philip Gordon, Aaron Murphy, Jennifer Rucker, Scott Wills, Michael Saccente, Louise Wallace, ,
As children, we were all daunted at some point by ghost stories around the campfire; the demon trolls under the bed or the monsters in the wardrobe. Monsters Inc. told us that the monster was big blue and full of the cuddly charm of John Goodman. Boogeyman tells us something completely different. The monster is dark, evil, murderous and made of computer effects.
As a young boy, Tim witnessed his father being abducted by the fiend in the closet. Now, twenty years later and almost believing the psychobabble crap that he created the event to deal with his father leaving, Tim is forced back to his home town and childhood abode when his mother dies and is faced with that closet door once again.
Being from the producers that brought us The Grudge in 2004, the plateau is set high and once again Ghost House Pictures dip into their Japanese bag of tricks and try to recreate the raw, visceral, psychological horror that our eastern friends are dominating the genre with. Unfortunately for Boogeyman, the methods and theories are there but it stumbles in the execution, leaving it looking like nothing more than a scare-tactics-by-numbers, contemptible teen horror.
The cast have no screen presence which is a mystery, as they all perform their characters well. With Tim, Barry Watson proves that drama is not his thing and he should stick to frat boy drag queen comedies like Sorority Boys. Stephen Kay’s direction is fine, even if slightly over the top on clichés. The script is good, it’s just paced a bit slowly and the scares don’t come quickly or big enough. However, the mystery of the Boogeyman is just enough to keep audiences watching till the end. It even reaches “intriguing” levels, when Tim accidentally enters a closet from a motel and bursts out the door of a cupboard in his own home. It’s then spoiled by the fact that the script decides to heighten the mystery by introducing a few plot holes and a nonsensical supernatural element. Then, the biggest mistake is made during the climax of the movie, when the physical manifestation of fear is given a face.
It’s nice to see a horror movie aimed at the teen audience, trying to give us characters that aren’t high school stereotypes, in the hope we might be passionate about their dilemmas. There is some serious psychology going on here, but it gets too silly to be taken earnestly and produces unsatisfactory feelings to walk away with.
The lack of a commentary is disappointing. The 35 minutes of cast and crew interviews drag on as they are really not doing much but retelling the story (a bit like a commentary). The 20 minutes of deleted scenes are quite painful to watch. There is a good reason why these have been slaughtered out of the film. The alternate ending is very similar yet better than the one we got. The visual effects progression package is a nice touch but its presentation is highly ineffective as it repeats the same scene four or five times, each time showing how the effect builds from green screen to CGI.