This Boogeyman's favorite victim is Tim (Barry Watson), and a childhood encounter leaves Tim's dad dead -- but Tim, somewhat inexplicably, still alive. Years later, Tim is living in "the city" (very similar to "a city") terrified of closets and the dark, though surprisingly at ease with an insufferable and oblivious girlfriend Jessica (Tory Mussett). When a family tragedy brings Tim home again, he must confront his frighteningly literal demons. He also gets to spend some quality time with childhood love Kate (Emily Deschanel).
A good chunk of the movie is saddled with several pounds of expositional dialogue: "that was two years ago," "well, she is my sister," and so on. Because Tim's hometown seems to be populated only by abandoned and/or haunted houses, the rest of the movie is about Tim and/or Kate and/or Jessica walking down darkened corridors, approaching doors very slowly.
Watson, with his moist version of a haunted look, seems to take all of the slow creeping around as a sign that he's in an M. Night Shyamalan film. Boogeyman does feel like an imitation of something or another, not in the least because it stars a guy who looks like at least two other actors (Timothy Olyphant and Josh Duhamel) and a girl who actually is Zooey Deschanel's lookalike sister. So barren of interesting characters is Boogeyman, that I rooted for Deschanel to survive only because she (literally) resembles a good actress.
I would gleefully point out all of the plot holes that open up in the meantime, if only I could make any sense of what exactly happens in the movie, or why. If Boogeyman has a specialty, it's a series of shock-cut jump-scares, each lovingly adorned with that favored horror combination of shrieking music and shrieking sound effects. These jumps - and I did convulse a few times - aren't indicative of genuine talent at horror, any more than a man throwing shards of glass can be said to have a keen fighting technique.
Director Stephen Kay does produce two reasonably effective sequences to bookend the film: A creepy opening in young Tim's bedroom, and a fast-paced chase through all of the Boogeyman's closets (not too many -- he ought to talk to Monsters, Inc. about the possibility of renting some more). The frantic room-hopping of the latter juices the proceedings just in time for a literal-minded conclusion.
Boogeyman is weirdly close to a children's film, with its needy, orphaned ghosts and after-school message about facing your fears. It all seems so beneath this venerable creature. Maybe in his next movie, the Boogeyman can do something more productive, like fight the Predator.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th February 2005
Box Office USA: $46.4M
Distributed by: Screen Gems
Production compaines: Pacific Renaissance Pictures Ltd., Screen Gems, Ghost House Pictures, Senator International
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 13%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 76
IMDB: 4.1 / 10
Director: Stephen T. Kay
Starring: Emily Deschanel as Kate Houghton, Barry Watson as Tim, Skye McCole Bartusiak as Franny Roberts, Lucy Lawless as Tim's Mother, Tory Mussett as Jessica, Olivia Tennet as Terrified Girl, Aaron Murphy as Young Tim, Andrew Glover as Boogeyman, Scott Wills as Co-Worker, Robyn Malcolm as Dr. Matheson
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