Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Title: Boogeyman
Cast: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Lucy Lawless, Tory Mussett, Philip Gordon
Director: Stephen T. Kay

Boogeyman sounds a bit funny; over here it would have been called Bogeyman and made more sense with it. Regardless, both are the name of the nightmare figure used to scare children, particularly applied to make children behave – if you are a bad boy the bogeyman will get you! Unsurprisingly, the film Boogeyman follows the life of a boy who was told that, who grew into a man, still haunted by the idea of the bogeyman.

Of course, with the opening sequence it is perhaps not surprising that he remains haunted. He remembers his father being taken by the bogeyman when he was 8-years-old, even if everyone tells him that is just his imagination compensating for the fact that his father abandoned him and his mother. However 15 years later, and he is still haunted by events, years of psychiatry haven’t made a lot of difference and he maintains his distance from the home of his youth.

However, with the death of his mother he is forced to return home, and in doing so, decides that it is time to face his fears. So he pulls up in front of this big, old house, located in the middle of nowhere. The sort of house that you take a look at and think – aye, that’ll be right! Before climbing back into your car never to return. But of course, that would be a short film, so instead, he enters the house, and everything starts to come back. This night he will face the bogeyman and if he doesn’t defeat his fear he will lose everything that is dear to him.

Thus we have the set up for a spooky thriller set in a clichéd, spooky old house. But with that the filmmakers go the whole hog, cranking the suspenseometer up to a good 11. Filling the film with long, tense, lingering shots; every scene creaking and groaning, playing on the power of suggestion and the ability to influence the audience. Which actually transforms the film by degrees from a horror film by the book, to something which shows that a level of care has been taken to creating and sustaining atmosphere.

Boogeyman takes the idea of what might be called “alien space” – that space which is within the domestic condition, which refuses to adhere to the rules that it should follow. Each dark corner and slit is a hole from alien space to our space, where IT looks through and threatens our security. This to a degree is a fundamental of horror movies, particularly in recent times. In Boogeyman they take this idea a step further, almost encroaching in material reminiscent of House Of Leaves as things stop playing by any of the rules that have been established in the first half of the film.

Going in to Boogeyman I expected something that was run of the mill, instead I got something a little more interesting that. So that I went from expecting some schlock thriller silliness to being surprised by something that was actually reasonably effective. The ending is perhaps a little sudden, leaving me questioning the gaps a little, but you can’t have everything.

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