Barry Watson as Tim Jensen
Emily Deschanel as Kate
Skye McCole Bartusiak as Franny
Lucy Lawless as Mary Jensen
Tory Mussett as Jessica
Robyn Malcolm as Katie
Charles Mesure as Mr. Jensen
Louise Wallace as Jessica’s Mom
Michael Saccente as Jessica’s Dad
Early in the new fright flick, Boogeyman, star Barry Watson utters “It’s gonna get ugly.” He may have been referring to alcohol on screen, but it’s easy to apply the line to what followed: an overlong, bland, painfully stupid thriller that can only be described as ugly.
The second entry into much-revered horror icon Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Ghost House Pictures, Boogeyman stumbles in the thriller genre just as The Grudge fumbled at making a competent horror picture (though box office receipts did sing a different tune.) Boogeyman supposes that the thing that lived in the closet and under the bed is real and waiting to attack with a slamming door without warning. In the prologue of the film, Tim Jensen witnesses his father being sucked into a closet by an unseen force. Fifteen years later, Jensen (7th Heaven’s Watson) is all grown up still living in fear of closets. With the news that his mother has passed away, he returns home to face his greatest fear in his old house, the Boogeyman.
Director Stephen Kay loses every chance he can at scaring the audience. Every stinger (which there is quite a few) is telegraphed by an inherent silence before the stinger. Boogeyman isn’t revealed until the final moments of the film (ala Alien), but the creature is such a mess of CGI that it isn’t satisfying when the audience gets a clear look at the baddie.
Such is the problem with Boogeyman; it is a non-stop fright fest with no substance or quite scenes without a slamming door. Doors slam constantly in the film, but not once were they frightening. In order to achieve suspense, the audience must be engaged in the character, but director Kay doesn’t give Watson a single scene to warm up to the audience. He’s too busy using every slanted camera angle he can find, while distracting the audience with what he claims is a “story.” Boogeyman is full of false scares and it gets awful tiring over the course of the 86 minute running time.
The film also suffers from a new trend in the horror genre: “Scary Kid Syndrome.” Most notably found in The Sixth Sense, a child, male or female, is inserted into the movie and usually lit with a blue hue, as if to spook the audience. In Boogeyman, the child speaks in hush tones and has many nonsensical lines that complicate the plot, but ultimately have little relevance to the outcome of the movie. Not only does Skye McCole Bartusiak inhabit the central “scary kid,” but the film features a scene in which numerous “scary kids” tear and grab at Watson. It’s a cheap gag and not scary in the least.
As far as acting in the film goes, the cast is fairly harmless. Watson, in the lead role, is impressive as he carries the film and most of the scenes feature Watson alone (Watson’s most frequent co-star was played by the copious amounts of slamming doors.) When there is cast present, the film becomes livelier, but it’s a broken record with the same things happening in every single scene.
Boogeyman could be fun to certain genre fans, but to everyone else (even though it seems like every horror movie will be successful no matter the quality) slam the door on this Boogeyman.