[box cover]

Boogeyman

Nearly every horror movie relies in some part on the concept of a "boogeyman" — a ruthless, single-minded, indestructible personification of evil, lurking in the shadows and attacking the vulnerable. This venerable spectre of childhood fear has been made so familiar through its routine depiction in filmed entertainment that it's a feat worthy of remark that Stephen Kay's cleverly titled Boogeyman takes such a simple and ingrained trope and manages to make it muddled, aimless, and confusing. "7th Heaven" heartthrob Barry Watson stars as Tim, a young man still haunted by the disappearance of his father 20 years earlier. While the official story is that Tim's dad was a deadbeat, a frightened young Tim saw his father pulled screaming into the darkness of his bedroom closet, never to be seen again. Now an adult, Tim — in what a more interesting film would play as a metaphor for self-loathing video-game quality visual effects rage — is terrified of closets. He also suffers from horrifying dreams that hearken back to his boyhood trauma, causing a spot of difficulty with his saucy girlfriend, Jessica, who, despite the warning signs, hasn't figured out that her boyfriend is mentally troubled. When his mother (Lucy Lawless) passes away, Tim returns to his deserted childhood home and faces down the shadows that continue to torment him. While most horror films are workmanlike slaves to a tired genre, Boogeyman's screenplay (by no less than three writers: Eric Kripke, Juliet Snowden, and Stiles White) jumps pointlessly from weak horror formula to weak horror formula like an overstimulated pre-teen comic book fanboy with ADD. Following the half-decent opening scene of Tim's father's closet-mauling, the actual Boogeyman is MIA for most of the next hour, until — after many long scenes of Tim freaking out and spastically wrestling with 20-year-old coats in a cloakroom — it begins to stalk him, targeting not only Jessica, but Tim's childhood friend Kate (Emily Deschanel), her father, and Tim's uncle Mike (Philip Gordon). The mystery of why the Boogeyman has a jones for terrorizing adult Tim remains unclear, as do several of the movie's other key plot points, such as Tim's inadvertent teleporting between locations and his final effortless victory over the Boogeyman, of which the only explanation is that the movie's allotted 89 minutes were nearly up and it had to end somehow. Not many scares or other visceral delights are found in Boogeyman, but sufferers of itchy-scalp conditions may benefit from some post-movie head-scratching. Columbia TriStar presents Boogeyman in a good anamorphic transfer (1:85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This disc also includes two "making-of" featurettes, an alternate ending (that's just as silly and incomprehensible as the theatrical ending), animated storyboards, progressions of the video-game quality visual effects, and six deleted scenes. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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