Horror review: Boogeyman



The credits for Boogeyman screenwriter Eric Kripke, director Stephen Kay, and star Barry Watson aren’t overly impressive. Kripke wrote for and helped develop the cheesecake TV series Tarzan, Kay directed a routine Sylvester Stallone vehicle, Get Carter–after penning the widely reviled remake of the The Mod Squad–while the main entry in Watson’s bio is for playing Dave/Daisy in the juvenile college-dudes-in-drag comedy Sorority Boys.

So it’s no surprise at all that Boogeyman is just a hyperactive horror flick aimed at teens, with a built-in propensity for lightning-quick edits, piercing sound effects, and a whole lotta shit gettin’ tossed around.

Watson plays Tim Jensen, a cute 23-year-old college student who is still haunted by the sight of his dad getting violently sucked into Tim’s bedroom closet when he was eight. Everybody else believes that Mr. Jensen just up and left the family for good one night, and that the stories he’d told Tim about the boogeyman–like his father before him–had been used by the traumatized kid to deal with the disappearance.

Eighteen years after the event, including time spent in a mental institution, Tim still has a phobia about closets, and when he starts having awful, knock-you-out-of-bed nightmares about his recently deceased mom (Xena: Warrior Princess‘s Lucy Lawless in bogus old-age makeup), he figures it’s time to gas up the vintage blue Mustang, head back to the old homestead, and face his fears once and for all.

His immaculate ride looks so fine that when a huge crow dive-bombs into its windshield, nearly causing a head-on with a Mack truck, you’re more worried about the paint job than how the bad omen will affect poor Tim. But after comically employing the wipers to help detach the bloody bird from his line of sight, he soldiers on, eventually reuniting with a childhood friend (Emily Deschanel) who helps him battle the boogeyman.

Tim also gets tips on how to out-boogey his nemesis from a brave young girl named Franny (Firestarter 2: Rekindled‘s Skye McCole Bartusiak) who’s had her own mysterious run-in with the B Man.

Around this time the plot spirals outta control: it’s hard to differentiate between what’s really happening and the imaginings of Tim’s tortured mind. A closet from his childhood home now leads to the roadside motel where his hot-to-trot girlfriend, Jessica (Tory Mussett), vanished from the tub.

Also, it turns out Franny was actually abducted years earlier and never found. In the meantime, the boogeymeister himself–resembling a demonic member of the Blue Man Group–ramps up the violence, wrapping folks in plastic, sucking them into closets and such.

Much dizzying camerawork–no doubt influenced by Boogeyman coproducer Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead–is put on display, and there are some subtly inventive shots, as when a key is shown connecting in slo-mo with the inner workings of a door lock. But for the most part, Boogeyman seems content just to riff out ad nauseum on the same style of adrenalized, effects-driven carnage Freddy Krueger has been pulling off for years.

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