Amidst the remakes, Torture Porn, and New French Extremity, the 2000s produced some strong genre movies. Boogeyman was not one of those movies. In a decade where House of the Dead, FearDotCom, Ghost Ship, and The Wicker Man remake all hit theatres, Boogeyman still stands out as a noteworthy stinker. Before Sam Raimi’s production company Ghost House Pictures made movies like Drag Me To Hell or the Evil Dead remake, they struggled to find their footing. Despite working with a classic monster archetype – the monster in the closet – Boogeyman failed to impress critics and audiences. However, the movie did manage to make some money. So were critics wrong in 2005? Is there a good movie somewhere in Boogeyman? Or is it just a bad movie?
When Tim Jensen was a little boy he witnessed a monster from his closet drag his father away. No one believed him. Family and friends told Tim that his father walked out on him and his mother. But after all these years, Tim still believes in the ‘Boogeyman’. Following his mother’s death, Tim returns to his childhood home to confront the past – and a monster that may still be hiding in his boyhood closet.
Boogeyman Fails to Check Off Any Horror Prerequisites
Sometimes Rotten Tomatoes gets it right. And that 13% Tomatometer score may be generous. There’s a lot wrong with Boogeyman. But if we’re going to be positive, director Stephen Kay teases a potentially good movie with the opening scene. Yes, it’s total 2000s horror – loud sounds, rapid-fire edits, and telegraphed scares. Still it’s better than everything that follows. For the next hour and 20 minutes or so, Kay throws an array of camera-tilting, slow-motion, etc, in some of the most inexplicable moments. What he doesn’t do is generate anything remotely resembling suspense or scares. Maybe novice horror fans will jump once or twice. Nonetheless, Boogeyman is the worst kind of PG-13 horror.
…Kay’s reluctance to show too much of his titular villain makes sense once the final act comes knocking.
Poor pacing exacerbates this lack of scares. For long chunks of time, a whole lot of nothing happens in Boogeyman. Even at under 90s minutes, there are long stretches that will have you checking your watch. So in addition to being scare-free, Boogeyman is boring. Of course, Kay’s reluctance to show too much of his titular villain makes sense once the final act comes knocking. Like many other horror movies from the late 90s and early 2000s, Boogeyman relies too much of poor CGI effects. Here, the VFX are particularly awful. As a result, the ‘Boogeyman’ inspires more snickers than shudders.
Boogeyman Can’t Find The Horror in a Classic Monster Archetype
Another problem haunting Boogeyman is the screenplay. This 2000s horror marks one of the rare occasions where lazy expository dialogue would have been a good thing. That it took three writers to pen this often incomprehensible mess may be the scariest thing about the movie. Whether it’s the lazy tropes or chunks of time where characters disappear only to later re-surface, not much here makes sense. At least the writers could have tried to figure out the movie’s villain. Instead, Boogeyman only vaguely defines its own monster. This is a case of a character being able to ‘do things’ when the story requires it. Just don’t be too hard on the movie. It’s not like there was a wealth of mythology on the character for the the movie to draw on.
Whether it’s the lazy tropes or chunks of time where characters disappear only to later re-surface, not much here makes sense.
As far as its cast goes, Boogeyman is pretty much par for the course alongside other Ghost House Entertainment movies. Like his castmate Jessica Biel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), 7th Heaven star Barry Watson was looking to broaden his career prospects. To be fair, Watson is hardly the problem with the movie. That is, he’s perfectly fine as the traumatized Tim, delivering a mostly convincing portrayal of someone unraveling. Poor Emily Deschanel doesn’t have much to do in the movie. Fortunately, Deschanel was just kicking off a long, successful run on TV crime procedural, Bones.
Boogeyman Earns Its Bad Reputation
Without a doubt, Boogeyman is a bad movie. A really bad movie. In fact, there’s almost nothing redeemable here to recommend horror fans. Often incomprehensible, mostly boring, and never scary, Boogeyman amazes in just how much it botches a decent premise. It’s too bad Kay didn’t use some of his nifty camera work to manufacture some jumps. When Barry Watson’s performance is your movie’s highlight then you’ve done something wrong. Somehow this scare-free horror movie beget two straight-to-video sequels. Avoid at all costs.