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By Rory L. Aronsky | May 29, 2005

Historically, a horror film has been many things. It has contained actors who act, unease which feels like genuine unease and not just that of the feeling of wasted money. These two key elements are not understood by “Boogeyman”, which listlessly walks the same line as those before it which have subscribed to the same notions which do not make for a good scare, a tight hand to the mouth, or anything which remotely resembles the opportunity to not only be with characters but to get into them some way.

“Boogeyman” is that bull’s eye example which begins its immediate downfall once Barry Watson of “7th Heaven” misfortune appears on screen. His eyes don’t say anything. His frightened actions don’t give us anything to emotionally claw down upon, something to make us be as shaken as he is. In short, he’s what you can get when nothing better can be gotten. As Tim, there’s a history with the Boogeyman after his father tells him a fateful story which scares him away from closets, especially since he believes that his father was taken away and chomped up by this heinous creature from really nowhere except his brain. But what can be believed? With quick cuts, a jumble of images and screeching sound effects, is this monster really worth the final two minutes? Tim also comes with a ready-made girlfriend (Tory Mussett), blonde, and smartly enough, not all that sex pot-like since obvious concentration is on the ho-hum matters at hand. Consider this, though. How did he ever manage to keep her for however many months with his problems in tow? What if there was a night when she went into the closet for lingerie and the light bulb burned out while she was in there? I’ll bet he really ruined the mood after that happened. Just a minor thought among many because who really wants to think about Barry Watson getting it on anyhow? There’s no soul in that guy, I tell you! No soul!

Director Stephen Kay has got some skill with a camera, just not with the ideas of a horror film. There’s only one striking moment where the Boogeyman grabs an unsuspecting soul (I forgot who because it’s just that type of horror film where once you see it, you don’t go back, even for research purposes), and twist him ‘round and ‘round and the camera reflects that, before yanking him into the closet for whatever meal of the day the monster has set for that time. Skye McCole Bartusiak plays a young girl who seems afraid of the Boogeyman, but is more questioning of it, asking Tim if it’s true that the Boogeyman took away his Dad. Possible, of course, but just like any bad horror movie, there’s never any answer worth knowing. Bartusiak is simply that one plot point among the path to wherever. No worms tunnel out of her brain nor any skin peeling off her, but she’s really got nothing much to do beyond the simple calm explanations.

When the Boogeyman does finally appear, it looks like Imhotep’s alcoholic cousin. This is the creature that Imhotep would be embarrassed to be seen with at family gatherings, the one that would sidle up to him and say, “Hey Tep, how’s about you and me go and toilet paper someone’s car? You hold still and I’ll spin you around.” Ironically, the Boogeyman’s got a bondage fetish with Saran Wrap too. Still not worth the rental price or time.

This movie’s so dead that the attitude even extends into the two-part making-of documentary on the DVD which is not so much making-of as it is a bunch of talking heads complimenting each other, revealing their vision for the film, and thankfully exonerating Sam Raimi of any real involvement in this movie. His business partner, producer Rob Tapert explains that Raimi was so busy on “Spider-Man”, that Stephen Kay’s working relationship on this movie was with him. Raimi’s name is still on the final product, so when he gets done with “Spider-Man 3” or any time he has a break, he needs to reconfigure what his production company stands for. Horror has been just that for decades for a reason. The man who made “Evil Dead” should not be making these kinds of movies that cater to the brief shock and fright. There’s nothing even alive about this. The rest of this documentary contains comments from actors on their characters and even rehashes the story unnecessarily. Trust an audience to have seen the film either in theaters or on DVD when they watch this. Don’t push crap that’s already known. Some on-set footage is simply typical, nothing that looks out of the ordinary when it comes to filming these kinds of movies.

Accordingly, there are also deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and visual effects progressions that, logically, show some of the special effects put in for the movie, from the beginning when there aren’t any to the final product. Green screens abound. The days still exist when DVDs can be plucked off the shelves, put into the player, and you can get the skin scared right off of you. Don’t go for that kind of excitement with “Boogeyman”. It left even before the Boogeyman arrived.

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