Pathetic Torture

'Boogeyman' would have benefited from a better script--and more of the Boogeyman itself

It seems like I've spent the entire first five weeks of the New Year watching hellishly bad horror films starring the likes of Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Christian Slater and that creepy Dakota Fanning kid. It seems that way, because it is, in fact, true that I have been enduring this cinematic torture.

OK, it is officially time to chill out with the horror movies, and especially the PG-13 ones. These things are pretty bad, a dime a dozen, and giving a good genre a bad name. The latest offender, the trashy Boogeyman, isn't nearly as bad as last week's Alone in the Dark, but it's horrendous all the same.

This is essentially a decent 10-minute movie stretched out to almost 90. The whole boogeyman mystique would seem to be decent fodder for a feature film, but this one doesn't know what to do after its rather scary beginning where a little boy's papa is snatched into the closet by the title character. The kid, Tim, grows up to be Barry Watson, the pretty boy from 7th Heaven with negligible acting abilities.

The screenplay has the Boogeyman targeting Watson for reasons unexplained, and director Stephen T. Kay does his best to draw out the action with lots of pretty camera movements and slo-mo. Kay has a decent sense of style with his filmmaking, but this film is the very definition of over stylized. Everything is accompanied by swooping camera pans, crane shots, obnoxious sound effects and shock editing to the point where the movie becomes tedious to the eyes and ears. When the main character dropped his sweater and it fell to the ground in slo-mo accompanied by a whoosh!, I burst out laughing.

As for the Boogeyman himself, he's barely seen in the film, with most of the action being Watson walking around looking somber. When we do get a brief glimpse of the monster, he looks a little like the bald version of Eddie from all of those Iron Maiden album covers. The opening sequence, where he's nothing but a hooded specter approaching young Tim's bed, is actually quite creepy, and the film would've benefited from a few more scenes like it. Alas, further footage with the monster is just computer-animated garbage that rushes by too fast to take it in or get spooked.

This one comes from Ghost House Pictures, the Sam Raimi production company that produced last year's decent The Grudge. Raimi is a normally reliable source when it comes to horror, so I'm hoping the weak Boogeyman isn't a sign of things to come. He's currently producing two Evil Dead movies, one a remake with and entirely new cast, and another a sequel (which he will direct) that continues the story of Bruce Campbell's Ash. If either wind up being a wimp-assed PG-13 for money-making's sake, I'll be pissed.

I did learn one cool thing from this movie: Über cool actress Zooey Deschanel has an older actress sister named Emily. Emily does her best scaredy-cat routine, and is far more interesting to watch than Watson, so somebody should've gotten creative and written a film that concentrated more on her character.

There was a chance for something genuinely scary here, and the opening sequence is proof. Many will probably think they are in for a rocking good time after the first few minutes. Sometimes, you just have to trust the movie reviewer, even if he did give positive reviews to Freddy Got Fingered and The Beach. Boogeyman is just another example of how to screw up a good premise. You are actually better off watching Hide and Seek, and that's just pathetic.

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