The first few weeks of the year and the last few weeks of August always seem to be about the time studios dump their creepy (and usually bad) supernatural thrillers on the market as these cheap to make movies are about the only thing that open decently in otherwise dry times. Chalk up another one to Sony with “Boogeyman”, a film that essentially mines the same ‘night terrors’ style territory seen in the truly awful “Darkness Falls” and the pretty decent “They” a few years back.
Falling somewhere in between those two in terms of quality (although sadly leaning toward the sucky former), “Boogeyman” is all about moody fast camera moves, sudden volume increases, quick flashes of silhouettes and the most gratuitous use of doorknobs ever seen on film. In a good move the actual boogeyman himself is kept hidden until the end – in between we get plenty of aforementioned silhouettes and the odd effectively atmospheric jump including a darkened hotel room, moving clothing on a chair, and an out of nowhere bit involving lots of dead kiddies grasping at our lead.
Unfortunately that’s the way the script treats itself too – hiding itself from the audience much of the time. The one sentence plot mentioned above is all there is in terms of actual story development. The characters are never fleshed out beyond the perfunctory, there’s little to no explanation about the title creature itself or more importantly its ties to Tim, and there’s lots of little segues (eg. the little girl) that add absolutely nothing to the story.
The cast is pretty ordinary. Barry Watson is one of the more likeable young leads out there – handsome and charming yet ‘average guy’ enough to be easily likeable. The spooked haunted guy look doesn’t come too convincingly too him however. Likewise Emily Deschanel is a better than average female lead in this, a farmer’s daughter who’s a realist but has feelings for Tim. The rest are completely forgettable.
At a mere 86 minutes it still feels far too stretched out – and the PG-13 rating significantly hampers the action every bit as much as the clunky script. Stephen Kay’s directing is serviceable but too showy. Locations are suitably drab, as is the flat score. Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures delivered “The Grudge” remake recently which was an above average effort for the genre, so it’s a shame they fell way below the line with a premise that could’ve yielded a result just as good. This is one closet not to come out of.