The Boogeyman is a film that borrows liberally from at least a half-dozen other recent movies, offers up a plethora of recycled scares doled out by clichéd antagonists, and is about as predictable as a teething puppy in a room full of expensive leather shoes, yet, there is just something undeniably cool about this otherwise lukewarm movie.
Tim (Watson) is a seemingly well-adjusted young guy, with a great job, a hot girlfriend (Deschanel), and a house with a bed on the ground, no closets, and not a single dark corner or crevice. Well, maybe that last part seems a little…err…off, but, then again, Tim has good reason, for you see, his father was murdered by the bogeyman. Or, at least, that’s how Tim remembers it. So, now, as an adult, Tim copes by eliminating every possible doorway through which the bogeyman can get to him. In this controlled environment, Tim gets by wonderfully, however, when a trip to his girlfriend’s parents house takes him out of his well protected element, Tim’s world begins to fall apart…again.
It begins with a dream about his estranged mother (Lawless in a creepy cameo), which leads to a phone call informing him of her death. Now Tim must return to his childhood home (now a rundown wreck of a place) and settle his family business. However, as the fear of confronting the demons of his past becomes too much to handle, Tim pays a visit to his child psychologist, who suggests that confronting those demons is precisely what he needs to do, and suggests that spending the night alone in his former residence would be the way to do it.
So Tim sets out to spend the night in his childhood home, where he meets a young girl named Franny (Bartusiak), who totes around a backpack full of missing children posters, and suggests to Tim that these kids were all victims of the bogeyman. In Franny, Tim finds a kindred spirit (and a far too obvious plot twist) as well as a partner in exposing the truth behind what happened in this house.
The basic premise of The Boogeyman is very similar to current cable staple, “Darkness Falls”, and director Kay seems to have been working off of some blueprint as to how to make the film as Japanese as possible. From the muted colours and oftentimes quiet scares, to the ghostly visages that haunt Tim’s visions, Kay’s film could easily pass for the work of dozens of Japanese filmmakers, were it not for his decidedly non-Asian cast. However, this look is precisely what made The Boogeyman work for me. I mean, sure, the film is riddled with plot holes, much banal dialogue, and a CGI riddled ending that made me want to throw a boot at the television set, but damn if it doesn’t look good doing it.
The Boogeyman has to be one of the most visually appealing films that I have seen in quite some time, and while that doesn’t completely make up for the film’s shortcomings, it does soften the blow quite a bit. It also helps that the story, while nothing groundbreaking, is semi-absorbing, and there are a few good jolts thrown in for good measure. The cast of mostly unknown actors do a serviceable job, although star Barry Watson has a look and style that screams TV Movie of the Week. Still, the very cute Emily Deschanel makes good with what little screen time she has, and the young Bartusiak is both contemplative and creepy.
The DVD from Columbia Tristar features a few extra tidbits that hint at a special edition in the offiing, however what is here is enough to tide fans over. In addition to a few making-of featurettes (featuring a far-too enthusiastic Rob Tapert), there are an assortment of deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and more.
In the end, what we have here is a movie that looks better than it probably has a right too, which lends more than a bit to its overall entertainment value. Still, The Boogeyman does have its moments, and it's just as easy on the brain as it is on the eyes, which is really all this sort of microwave popcorn cinema aspires to be.