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MOVIES 'Boogeyman' scary only because it's so darn bad



Published: Tue, February 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The low-budget film gives moviegoers little to watch.

By PHIL VILLARREAL

SCRIPPS HOWARD

There's something hiding in the dark, waiting to siphon away your joy and fill you with dread, but it's no monster.

It's "Boogeyman," the latest half-brained studio attempt to jolt the cash right out of your wallet, using the tried-and-true method of making a low-budget, no-star affair seem intriguing by promoting it with a swirling, quick-cut trailer.

The premise centers on a demon that pops out of people's closets, bathtub faucets and kitchen appliances to do several things: Freak out victims; cover them in Saran Wrap; kill them dead; or kill them but let their ghosts walk around so they can dish out obtuse advice to the living folks tormented by the all-powerful beast.

Of all those attacks, the Saran Wrap is the scariest, just because the Boogeyman does it so fast. One second you're standing there, and the next you're a human Ziploc. Imagine what this Boogeyman could do with tinfoil.

The victims

One of the Boogeyman's marks is Tim (Barry Watson), a 23-year-old who has a fantastic job as a magazine editor, a hot girlfriend, Jessica (Tory Mussett), and a smooth ride. Tim's life is perfect, and it has always been so, except for that dark and stormy night as a child when the Boogeyman came out of the closet -- but not in that way -- killed his dad and drove his mom to the loony bin.

On an overnight visit with Jessica to the home of her conservative parents, Tim is just about to score some on-the-sly sex, when he flips out and gets a hallucination that reminds him of his childhood. Then, Tim's cell phone rings, and it's his uncle telling him his mom died. It's time for Tim to head back home and spend a night in the old house.

This doesn't go over so well with Jessica, who is freaked out at Tim's nonsensical rants and insistence on leaving at that moment to confront his fears: girls. They just don't get that sometimes men have gotta go and fight Boogeymen, dispatching their evil spirits by spending nights in creaky houses.

The theme is similar to "Wes Craven Presents: They" (2002), in which a college student discovers that monsters she feared as a child may turn out to be real, or at least as real as cheap computer effects are capable of rendering.

The mediocre "They" seems like a masterpiece compared to "Boogeyman," which is duller than a plastic butter knife. Artificial, music-fueled shocks are propped up by stiff acting and wobbly logic. The mostly unseen Boogeyman seems less like a dangerous killer than a cheap machination of a director's twitchy creative hand.

The movie is allegedly a horror flick, but most of Watson's "7th Heaven" television episodes are much more frightening than this. Monsters just aren't scary if what they do doesn't make any sort of sense.

Late in the film, Watson stands in his typical expression of dumbfounded turmoil.

"Is it over?" he's asked.

"Yeah, it's over," he says, possibly aware that he's commenting on his acting career.




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