|It would be far too simple and rather mean-spirited to ask why the creators of this film decided to choose a title where one letter could be changed to create a completely different (yet appropriate) meaning for the film. You won't need three guesses to figure out that the first machination of the title involves removing one of those important letter O's, leaving viewers with the word "bogeyman" on their lips. This highly descriptive term would greatly benefit potential viewers as it would serve as a definite warning against casual viewer-ship. Possessing more than just a few trips and falls, Boogeyman is not so much a horror film as it is a farce.|
And therein lies the potential for a second, equally as damning title change. Simply modify the Y in the middle of the word to an R and you get. . .
It is surely not the mark of an impressive film that one would find it entertaining to bandy about the title of a film whose title character is supposed to grab your attention and squeeze the living fear out of you. The audience is granted few real, juicy shots of the Boogeyman of title fame and with the weak screen presence of Barry Watson, it's a difficult task finding just which character one should focus his or her attention on for some emotional satisfaction. The viewers of a film like Boogey are doubtless in the theater to experience thrills and chills.
The audiences of this film might find those horror movie necessities missing from the final product. The filmmakers try far too hard to create scary scenes with erratic and shaky camerawork and long, drawn-out sequences of "anticipation." The audience knows exactly when The Boogeyman is going to jump out of the closet. And we know exactly who will bite the dust, what stupid move the protagonist will make next, and what will happen at the conclusion. Just because a film is in a specific genre doesn't mean it should be let off the hook regarding creativity.
Perhaps it's a ridiculous notion to ask a movie of Boogeyman's caliber to engage in things like plot and character motivation, but this film follows those "requirements" of intelligent filmmaking with less zeal than most of its contemporaries. Improving upon a dusty and tired script is a difficult yet possible task for an agile cast, but Boogeyman doesn't have the luxury of a cast able to transform a creaky script into an engaging film. Far more interested in the MTV tie-ins and wardrobe product placement than on anything that happens to be bouncing around any of the characters' vacuous brains, the filmmakers have unequivocally chosen style over substance.
And that approach might have worked if the aim of this film hadn't been to scare the wits out of its viewers. True dread that stems from the fear in every child's heart of things that go bump in the night and who's hiding behind your closet door seem an entirely foreign concept in this film. Those pervasive childhood fears are alluded to and tossed about a few times in this film (apparently the lead character has to have at least a thimble full of motivation), but they are hardly brought to visual fruition by the cinematographer. The camera work borders on true madness during one especially drawn-out scene of apparent terror.
There are a few visual cues in the film that just might make you jump a bit in your chair, but only if you are seriously committed to enjoying this film because each of those cues really fly above the stratosphere of cliché. Staring at an amorphous object in a dark room and believing it to be some menacing creature only to learn, after flipping the light switch that the "creature" is nothing but some innocent piece of furniture has to be the most commonly portrayed visual fake in horror cinema. And that's the first thing Boogeyman hits you with. And do we really need to see the main character open a closet door that might just hold the one thing that has haunted him his entire life?
The protagonists of horror films will forever be forced to make stupid decisions regarding their safety if the folks in charge of Boogeyman have their say. And it's possible that we'll be stuck with unsatisfying endings created more with the intent of handing the audience a sequel a few unfortunate years down the road rather than a tight final scene with a nicely wrapped conclusion. It's not really true to say that this film is completely without its scary moments. It's just that those moments are all part of the standard horror movie repertoire and are offered to the audience with little finesse. This movie's only saving grace is its efficient budget. The studio probably won’t have to deal with financial loss on the picture despite the fact that it should have gone directly to video.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.