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Boogeyman is another one of those throwaway films that most avid filmgoers will rightfully dismiss, and horror fans will find to be too weak to really hold up as a frightfest. It has its moments, but the film is never truly scary, unless you are frightened by sudden jolts in the soundtrack accompanied by rapidly cut sequences intended for shock effect.

No, Boogeyman won’t keep you up at night, and that would have been forgivable had it at least hit its intended mark. It would seem that its aim was more in the vein of the work of its Producers Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi on the Evil Dead series. You know the feel, an even mix of dark humor and frightening imagery? That worked because the dosage of each was so expertly applied. However, the second release under Tapert and Raimi’s recently formed Ghost House Pictures is more or less underwhelming in all regards. That is, until the film completely derails somewhere in the middle of the second act, at which time Director Stephen T. Kay seem to simply “let go” and let the film have some truly wicked fun.

We open the film in the world's most potentially terrifying room ever, chock full of objects that seem to be placed strictly because of their ability to look eerie in the dark. A life-like model crow dangles from the ceiling, a pose-able human form sits by a child’s bed on a dresser, an electric “eye storm” sits across the room from the bed and the shutter-blinds are designed to have a good half inch of clearance between each blind, the better to aid the chiaroscuro of the mise en scène.

The hands of Production Designers Patricia Devereaux and Robert Gillies are just a touch too visible for the tone here, which had it been established as such, would have been pitch perfect with the kind of sadistic torture Raimi and company used to dish out on Bruce Campbell during his multiple stints as Ash. Instead, it’s almost as if the film is just afraid to go there. The “most terrifying bedroom in all existence” belongs to Timmy, a five year old who is obviously having a tough time getting to sleep in the dark. He hears noises and a pile of clothes on his chair appears to be moving when the lights are out.

It takes a minute or two to realize where Kay is going with this, but once we finally reunite with Tim as an adult we start to get a clearer picture that this is, in part, a joke. After the altercation between a monster in his closet and his father at age five, Tim has since grown into a walking calamity that makes the film feel like a companion piece to the Lemony Snicket series. He’s terrified of closets, noises plague him in the dark, no matter where he parks his car it happens to be the most desolate, run down, and shadow-filled garage in all existence. His Thanksgiving plans to meet his girlfriend's parents are cut short when Tim is plagued by a dream of his ailing Mother. He awakes to find himself cowering in the corner of the room, his cell phone ringing off the hook. His uncle is on the other end telling him his mother is dead and that he needs to return home immediately for her burial.

All of this to move Tim back home to the house that haunted him as a child, where he lived in fear of a boogeyman in his closet. We learn that Tim projected the trauma of his Father abandoning his family with a simple resolution: “He didn’t leave, the boogeyman took him.” This is all good, good stuff, but it’s simply handled in a terrible fashion. The fact that it took three screenwriters to pull this story together should be a clue to its troubled progression.

When we finally (gasp!) reach the point of dealing with whether or not there is an actual boogeyman haunting Tim, many may feel too exhausted to give the best portion of the film a chance. Tim finds himself lost in a labyrinthine maze that twists together time and space in a fun kinetic fashion. Alas, the fun ends too soon.

In the end, its hard to recommend a film that takes so long to get to something so promising, only to cut it short before we’ve really had our fill. Yet there is one more saving grace for Boogeyman. Throughout the delayed development, the film seems to lead you in a direction that points to yet another film with a twist revelation in the third act. Instead, it dodges this recent trend and stays true to its title's promise in the end.


Mario Anima

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