Directed by Stephen Kay
Produced by Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert
Written by Eric Kripke and Juliet Snowden & Stiles White
Director of Photograpy Bobby Bukowski
Music by Joseph LoDuca
Cast: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Tory Mussett
2005/89 mins/Color/Dolby 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD
Most horror films offer some sort of "jump" scare or vicarious thrill, but for a scary movie to be truly frightening, it must include a universal fear that most everyone in the audience can relate to. Far too many horror films include monsters and situations that may be creepy, but are too alien to actually scare the audience. However, the idea of the "boogeyman" -- that terrible beast who lurks in the closet or under the bed -- is something that nearly all of us have contemplated at one time or another, lying in the dark. Therefore, this topic should be the jumping off point for a great scary movie. Then, why is the recently released BOOGEYMAN so dull?
As BOOGEYMAN opens, a young boy named Tim Jensen witnesses his father being sucked into a closet by an unseen force. The story then leaps ahead 16 years. Tim (played by Barry Watson) seems to have a good life, as he works for a magazine, and is dating his co-worker, Jessica (Tory Mussett). But, Tim is still haunted by that experience and lives in an apartment with no closets. When Tim gets word that his mother has died, he decides to return to his childhood home and face his fears once and for all. When he arrives, he finds the house to be abandoned and eerie, and he can clearly hear strange rustlings in the closet. Reuniting with childhood friend Kate (Emily Deschanel), Tim tries to piece together the events that lead to his father's disappearance. He soon learns that his old fears may be grounded in reality and that the monster in the closet is still looking for victims.
On the surface, BOOGEYMAN appears to be the kind of supernatural thriller that I usually enjoy and while I was watching the movie, I kept thinking, "I should be enjoying this movie a lot more than I am." So, why didn't the film work for me? The main reason is the story. BOOGEYMAN is simply too vague for its own good. Given the fact that 99% of the audience is familiar with the old wives' tale version of the boogeyman, the movie had a great opportunity to expand upon this myth and create a fleshed-out backstory to the monster. Yet, the film chooses to have the boogeyman simply be a product of childhood fears. And the film seems to contradict itself as it presents the boogeyman as something which torments only Tim and those close to him, and yet we learn of another individual which had faced this entity. The last act of the film becomes a trippy, nearly surreal series of scenes which I liked at first, but as they wore on, I realized that they felt lifted from something like DREAMSCAPE or any of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films. And the fact that the film ends abruptly doesn't help. The movie has some good ideas, such as the notion of bolting a chair to the floor for a certain occurrence, but they never come to life.
It's a shame that BOOGEYMAN has such a lackluster story, as the movie does have some things going for it. The film features some creepy locations which certainly add an air of doom to the proceedings. Also, the movie's dark, washed-out look gives it an otherwordly feel. I always felt that Barry Watson was nothing but a pretty-boy actor in the past, but he gives a good performance here and we sense the dread that Tim feels as he goes home again. Director Stephen Kay gives the movie a nice pace, but there are a few too many "gee-whiz" camera moves which made me wonder if he was just trying to impress producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert with his EVIL DEAD-like cinematic tricks. And as for the boogeyman himself, let's just say that he's on-screen long enough to disappoint the audience.
Unlike many others, I haven't jumped on the bandwagon of bashing the recent spate of PG-13 horror films, but I will at least walk beside the wagon for BOOGEYMAN. This movie hd loads of potential and the result feels very watered-down, to the point of having the atmosphere of a GOOSEBUMPS project. The idea of doing the ultimate film concerning that evil that we all know is waiting in the closet is a good one, and we'll have to be patient for someone to get it right.
BOOGEYMAN is captured on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer is very good as this dark film contains many deep shadows which look great here. The blacks are true and natural, as are the grey-tones which dominate the movie. There is a slight amount of grain here, but it's barely noticeable. The action is always visible and the few splashes of color look fine. There are some mild haloes on the picture, but nothing major. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track truly rocks and every scene, no matter what is happening, is filled with a low-frequency rumble. The dynamic range is somewhat off, as the bass is louder than the dialogue. Other than that problem, the dialogue is sharp and clear. The surround sound is good and that bass response really adds to the "jump" scare scenes.
The DVD contains an array of extras. "The Making of BOOGEYMAN, Part I" (15 minutes) contains interviews with Tapert and Kay (who comes across as kind of a flake), as well as comments from the cast. They talk at length about how the film came about and how it was made, but there is no mention of where the story came from. Also, Kay doesn't seem to have much respect for horror. There are many mentions of BOOGEYMAN was influenced by Japanese horror films. In "The Making of BOOGEYMAN, Part II" (20 minutes), we get more of a focus on the characters and actors. This segment examines the film's look as well. Here, Kay says, "...the less you know, the more frightening something is..." Well, I don't agree with that at all, and this movie sorely needed more story. The DVD contains 7 "Deleted Scenes" which run 13 minutes in total. There is only one new and interesting scene here. The 6-minute "Alternate Ending" is basically the same as the theatrical cut as far as the outcome, it's merely tackled from a different angle. The extras are rounded out by "Animatics" for three scenes and "Visual Effects Progressions" for four scenes, where the viewer can see how the visual effects were layered.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©