Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Closet Case: "Boogeyman" (2005)

An odd thing happened to me as I watched the film "Boogeyman". From the opening few minutes, which scared me like no other film has in recent memory, to the ridiculously laughable finale, I could keep track of my love of this film regress to like, nothing, loathing, and finally desperate hatred.

Tim (Barry Watson, who does try, and yes, I am the only person on the planet who liked "Sorority Boys") is a quivering emotional wreck after watching his father get brutally attacked and taken by some unseen force. Tim was a child, but never forgot that he saw his father disappear into a bedroom closet, never to be seen again, and is now trying to live a normal life working at a magazine and dating rich girl Jessica (Tory Mussett). Tim also has a fear of closets, standing before them in a trance whenever he sees one...not sure if school lockers or storage units set him off, the three screenwriters responsible for this don't let on. Tim's mother (Lucy Lawless, in an obviously slashed role not even deserving of the word "cameo") dies and Tim decides to take ONE night to go through her things at the very house where his father vanished from. The house still has lots o' closets, and while Tim does reconnect with childhood friend Kate (Emily Deschanel, who is so much better in "Bones", where she plays an actual character), he must battle the titular monster with the help of a new character, a little girl named Frannie (Skye McCole Bartusiak) who you know is not what she seems from her very first appearance onscreen.

The first sequence in the film, where a young Tim (Aaron Murphy) imagines innocent items in his room coming alive, until finally something does attack his father, plays on everyone's fear of their own space when they were younger (monsters under the bed and in the closet), and genuinely had me frightened. I wondered what my fellow critics were talking about when they trashed this film, this was some scary stuff...until I kept watching the film. Every scene. EVERY scene has a scare in it. When Tim goes back to his childhood psychiatric hospital to visit his doctor, we get no exposition or plot development, just another scene of a scared child that, while creepy, has nothing to do with the rest of the film. Every time Tim approaches a freaking closet, director Kay kicks the visuals into overdrive, as the camera swoops and darts and your mind begins to wander...what exactly is the Boogeyman? The film never fully explains anything. What happens to the people the Boogeyman takes? Where does Tim's sudden ability to bend time and space come from? Are the Boogeyman's victims just waiting in another closet somewhere, watching the clock tick as Tim walks into one closet after another, looking for them?

Yes, the script is a mess. Someone took out all of the scenes that didn't have a sense of dread in them, and tried to cobble together a scary film from what was left. You never come to care about Tim or any of the other characters because of that decision. Aside from the film's beginning, there are many unsettling scenes (Frannie's house), but they are quickly forgotten as the film makers pile on jump scares to keep the viewer watching until the very lame finale. Sam Raimi is listed as a producer, I don't see him pushing this film in any of the Wizard of Oz prequel trailer ads. I watched this on DVD, and was so miffed with the film when it was over, I didn't care about deleted scenes or alternate endings, I just wanted it out of my player and on the bottom of the big stack of discs I still need to watch.

Not surprisingly, "Boogeyman" was successful enough (a PG13 rating brought in a few more ticket buyers) to generate a couple of straight to video sequels. When Kate asks "is it over?" toward the end of the film, I answered out loud "I hope so". (*) out of five stars.