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BOOGEYMAN

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Lucy Lawless
Director: Stephen Kay
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: May 31, 2005

“ONE…TWO…THREE…FOUR…FIVE.”

Film **1/2

When we were kids, we all feared him.

A good many of us have had experiences as a child when we were afraid to go to sleep in our own rooms. The possibility that there may be a so-called boogeyman out to get us in our sleep has become the biggest urban legend to exist in real life. Thus, it has always been an ideal plot setup for a terrific fright fest.

Now, producer Sam Raimi has taken hold of this fearful phenomenon and whipped up Boogeyman, a frequently engaging, if not entirely successful, entry in the horror genre. This is the second release to come from Raimi and fellow producer Rob Tapert’s production company, Ghost House Pictures. While Boogeyman isn’t an entirely successful picture, it’s definitely an improvement over Ghost House’s previous offering, The Grudge, which I wasn’t too much a fan of.

The story centers on young businessman Tim Jensen (Barry Watson) who has lived everyday of his life in unyielding fear. He will not dare go near any darkened room, and is completely afraid of closets so much to the point that his apartment doesn’t have any. A request by his girlfriend for him to get some clothes from the closet helps to trigger a horrific memory from his past.

When he was 8 years old, Tim watched his father die at the hands of a monstrous force lurking in his closet. He eventually convinced himself, to a point, that it never really happened, and telling anyone who asks that his father left him and the family when he was little. However, his fear of the dark still remains, as Tim feels that the boogeyman will make his return to claim him as a second victim.

Following the death of his mother, Tim seeks advice from a therapist. She tells him that in order to overcome the fear that has plagued him, he must return to his old home and spend one night there. Hopefully, Tim will see to it, according to his therapist, that his father never got taken away by the boogeyman.

Once he returns to his childhood home, Tim seems injected with fear right from the start. A surprise greeting from childhood friend Kate (Emily Deschanel) helps to put some of the fright aside. Nevertheless, in every section of the house Tim walks into, strange things start to occur.

Against his will, Tim ventures into a closet to fix a bad light bulb, and to put his fear to rest, only to be greeted with a brief attack from some sort of invisible force. At this point, he feels that he’s losing his mind. Before long, he is met by a young girl, named Franny (Skye McCole Bartusiak), who has been following him. She is simply curious to know if the boogeyman did in fact take away his father.

There is plenty to complement about Boogeyman. First and foremost is the visual style of the film, courtesy of director Stephen Kay. A good portion of the movie is shot in blue-ish greys, particularly in the scenes where Tim is fighting off the boogeyman. It does bring a great deal of effect to the overall movie.

The sound of the movie is another killer element. This is one flick that knows how to trigger a certain level of escalating fight with the simplest creaking noises, right before delivering a big jump moment. From a technical standpoint, this is a very well executed movie.

The only thing keeping the movie from being a whole lot better is the limp moments in between the scares. Essentially, the movie is about a guy facing off with a home. And the key setup, a man’s decision to return to a place he fears most simply because a therapist who doesn’t believe his story says it will help, requires more faith than usual from the viewer. In addition, the ending also feels a bit abrupt.

But at the same time, this seems like one of those horror flicks that’s mostly aware that it exists to deliver fantastic, in-your-face frights, even if the moments surrounding them are as a simple as a plot could have them be. And with an 89 minute running time, it does go by at a decent pace. In the end, Boogeyman is mostly a mixed bag, but it is likely to do the job right for those looking for a good scare or three.

Video ****

A terrifically superb piece of DVD video courtesy of Columbia Tri Star. The anamorphic picture is nothing short of amazing in its level of detail and overall image clarity, with not a single flaw in sight. Colors are a huge factor in the presentation, as that of blue, black and grey never got a better appearance. For a movie that has an equal amount of light and dark in its sequences, it’s a most outstanding looking presentation.

Audio ****

Boogeyman carries a ferocious sound, and the 5.1 mix provided on this DVD is so effective that you may find yourself hiding under your nearest blanket in fear of the boogeyman himself. There are many jump-moments, each of which are all the more frightening in this sound mix. Even the more subtle areas of the movie sound fantastic. Dialogue delivery and music playback are also extremely well heard. Nothing but hair-raising quality to be found here.

Features ***

Included on this Special Edition release is a two part making of documentary, an alternate ending, several deleted scenes, a glance at some visual effects progressions as well as animatics. Lastly, there are bonus trailers including two upcoming theatrical releases from Sony; Stealth and The Cave, both of which look quite amazing.

Summary:

As far as frights go, Boogeyman does deliver indeed. As long as viewers are able to accept the simple story line and enjoy the scares, then they’re in for quite a good time. It’s a mixed opinion, but overall I do recommend this one to fans of good old fashioned scare fare.

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