2005 - PG-13 - 86 Mins.
|Director: Stephen T. Kay
|Producer: Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert
|Written By: Eric Kripke, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, and Darren Lemke
|Starring: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Louise Wallace, Lucy Lawless, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Robyn Malcolm
|Review by: Joe Rickey
|Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/boogeyman/
Barry Watson, of the WB television series “7th Heaven” (Jessica Biel also started on what is probably still one of the most family-friendly series, not to mention the longest-running show on the WB network) attempts to broaden his horizons by appearing in the horror-thriller ‘Boogeyman’ from Sam Raimi’s production unit, Ghost House Pictures (‘The Grudge’). This time out can’t help but be an improvement over his last big-screen role in the cross-dressing 2002 comedy ‘Sorority Boys.’ That, however, does not make anything great. Instead, it is a generic film not unlike 2003’s ‘Darkness Falls’ and 2002’s ‘They.’ Speaking of which, the plotline should sound familiar to anyone who saw either of the two aforementioned films: A child is haunted by the ubiquitous entity all throughout his youth, culminating in the apparent abduction of his father. Years later, he returns home for his mother’s funeral, leading to a series of events that bring him to confront his childhood demon. Emily Deschanel, older and less dynamic sister of Zooey Deschanel, also stars as his childhood sweetheart who aids in his battle with the titular being.
As helmed by Stephen T. Kay (2000’s remake of ‘Get Carter’) ‘Boogeyman’ does anything but boogie its way to the land of good to great horror films. It does get some things right -- the stylishly moody cinematography by Bobby Bukowski utilizes appropriately off-kilter camera angles as a function of making the viewer question whether all of what we see is real or just the product of an overactive imagination. Also worth noting is the creepy musical score and production design by Joseph LoDuca and Patricia Devereaux respectively; working in tandem to create an atmosphere of dread that permeates most every frame of the film. Beyond the purely technical side of the film though, ‘Boogeyman’ is a disappointing cinematic trip to Horrorland.
Director Kay is obviously new to the genre because he clearly has no clue how to pace the film. Many scenes at first seem to be going somewhere, containing some semblance of rhythm and then they just stop dead in their tracks before arriving at anything near a satisfactory end. I highly doubt that the film was heavily edited to get a PG-13 rating so this lack of coherence is all the more frustrating. Then again, the screenplay by committee is so completely jumbled that maybe director Kay did not have a chance. The characters repeatedly manage to go from one location to another with no explanation as to how they did so; they just open a door and bam! They are now in an entirely different location. This has to be the most blatant example of a film that went into production without a completed screenplay.
The performances are about par with what one would expect from a film such as this. In the lead role, Barry Watson is blandly inoffensive, neither great nor terrible enough to make much of an impression. Emily Deschanel shares the same fate and shows not an ounce of the dry wit and magnetism that her more talented younger sister possesses.
When it all comes down to it, ‘Boogeyman’ is yet another horror film that presents a series of scenes that do not connect coherently with one another. As a result, the film comes across as a horror version of Saturday Live skits. How did Sam Raimi give this the greenlight?