out of Five
Running time: 86
Confusing, badly written, poorly acted horror film that trots out a few clichés and eventually throws some semi-decent effects at them, in the mistaken belief that the audience won’t be bored to tears.
That Sam Raimi has a lot to answer for. The last film to carry the ‘Sam
Raimi Presents…’ tag was The Grudge, which may not have been to everyone’s taste but at least it seemed removed from the usual studio schlock and had a certain sense of style. Unfortunately, the only thing shocking about Boogeyman is how bad it is. That said, the film still managed to reach the coveted number one spot at the US box office, presumably due to a combination of a) Raimi’s name, b) heavy advertising and c) a slow release week.
Journalist Fails To Deal With Hideous Childhood Issues
Directed by Stephen T. Kay (who made - wait for it - the Get Carter remake), Boogeyman opens with a small boy called Tim who’s afraid to go to sleep because objects in his room look like monsters in the dark. His dad comes in to investigate and is promptly dragged into Timmy’s closet, thrown around a lot and, basically, murdered by an Unseen CGI Menace. Whoops.
We then flash forward several years and Timmy has grown into an unfeasibly good-looking magazine journalist (Barry Watson) with commitment issues and a Fear Of Doors. (The best scene features a pan round his one-room apartment that reveals he has taken all the doors off the cupboards). However, when Tim’s mother dies, he decides to go back to The House Where It All Began and confront his fears…
There is so much wrong with Boogeyman that it’s difficult to know where to begin. It isn’t so much the inclusion of the stock clichés (Skye McCole Bartusiak as The Creepy Kid; a sinister-looking house; various “shocks” along the lines of cats jumping out at inopportune moments, etc) but rather the fact that they’re all handled so badly.
Similarly, the script is appallingly written and completely fails to capitalise on its potential - for example, there’s a suggestion that Tim could be insane, but this goes precisely nowhere.
Kay himself has to shoulder a large part of the blame - for one thing, the film is extremely badly paced and it drags interminably for the first half, with endless shots of Tim pacing around the creepy house. Sadly, by the time things pick up in the final act with some interesting CGI effects shots (including a ‘dirty water’ sequence ripped off from Dark Water), you’ll have ceased to care because the story makes no sense whatsoever.
Lead Character Extremely Dull
Watson (from TV’s Seventh Heaven) may very well have the acting talents to go with his pretty-boy looks but you’d never know it from this film as his character is extremely dull. In fact, the film’s singular lack of humour is a huge strike against it, particularly when there are plenty of opportunities for some witty one-liners.
As for the support cast, the most interesting thing about the film is the presence of Emily Deschanel, older sister of The Lovely Zooey Deschanel. They’re disturbingly similar, to the point where it’s actually distracting (at least if you know who Zooey Deschanel is), although Zooey is clearly the talented one. The film also completely wastes Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) as Tim’s Zombie Mom, who appears briefly in one scene and that’s it, despite prominent billing.
In short, Boogeyman is a complete waste of time - it’s a bad film that doesn’t even manage to be entertainingly bad. Basically, there are dark rooms that are scarier than this film - go and sit in one of those instead. One to avoid.