In his spare time, the Boogeyman oversees a thriving ophthalmology practice.

© 2005, Screen Gems
All Rights Reserved

After witnessing his father's death at the hands of his childhood closet monster, Tim (Barry Watson, "7th Heaven") has grown up with extreme paranoia and a fear of the dark. To conquer his phobias, a doctor suggests spending one night in his boyhood home to face his troubles. Tim agrees, but as soon as he arrives, his old pal the Boogeyman comes calling, looking to finish the job he started years ago.

"Boogeyman" (IMDb listing) is no horror film. It will bill itself as one, and audiences might embrace it as a member of the genre, but I assure you it isn't. All the film contains is a series of cheap sound-effect jump shocks without any vision. "Boogeyman" does not contain one element of horror, regardless of what it looks and sounds like. Filmmaker Stephen Kay, last seen overdirecting the Stallone comeback vehicle "Get Carter," overdirects "Boogeyman" at such an unbearable pitch, there's little reason to even look up at the screen.

Kay loves his camera tricks, and "Boogeyman" offers him the greatest opportunity to show off some MTV-style chops. Why? Because the film has no story. And how do horror filmmakers traditionally compensate when faced with no vision? They shake their camera around, deluge the film with artistically bankrupt boo scares, edit like they're receiving a shiny gold coin for every cut, and stalling endlessly to get their film to a sellable running time. "Boogeyman?" Check, check, check, and check. The film's inertia is maddening. This is the rare film that takes forever to go nowhere. Not helping the pace is Kay, who instructs his poor, unfortunate talent (also including Emily Deschanel) to act two ways to kill time: either they play a silly, endless game of "red light, green light" going down every single hallway they come across or, in the case of Barry Watson, Kay goes in for a plethora of extreme horror close-ups when in dire need of tension. However, in this film's case, instead of reacting to ultimate terror, everyone just looks like they missed the last piece of birthday cake. Hardly frightening filmmaking.

Kay quickly gives up trying to stick with the script, and turns "Boogeyman" into a profoundly vague sensory experience, complete with screeching sound effects for no good reason and strobe-like editing. Since Kay and the screenwriters haven't bothered to think through who or what the Boogeyman is, the film's climax, which has Tim fighting his archenemy, offers no reason why the audience should care. Besides finally manifesting itself as a piece of questionable CGI, old Boogey doesn't have much else to offer, proving a long held theory that too much mystery is just as bad as giving it all away.

Rumor has it that "Boogeyman," after a year of sitting on the shelf, was ready for the home video market before the PG-13 success of "The Grudge" gave the studio other ideas. As this repulsive genre of "horror" gets increasingly more popular, the quality of the productions has become gradually worse. "Boogeyman" takes home the distinction of being the first of the "PG-13ers" to be a completely incoherent exercise in style, without any attention paid to even the most basic of storytelling fundamentals. If "Boogeyman" signals more films like this to follow, there are far worse nightmares out there to come than whatever is lurking in your closet.

Filmfodder Grade: D-

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