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Boogeyman’ succeeds on the usual thrills

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, February 22, 2005

While many horror films come out yearly that touch upon the theme of the boogeyman, no movie has yet tackled the theme directly. So it’s about time that someone has delved into the mythology behind one of childhood’s oldest fears.”Boogeyman,” directed by Stephen T. Kay, opened at number one at the box office for the Feb. 4-6 weekend. It builds on what is becoming a very profitable niche in the entertainment industry – the PG-13 horror movie. It borrows elements of the movies that came before it and extends them to create a good, competent narrative. However, it also doesn’t deviate much from its predecessors, so it fails to exceed the usual expectations for the horror genre.Tim Jensen (Barry Watson) apparently had a fairly traumatic childhood. After all, not every child gets to watch as their father is killed and taken by the boogeyman. Now, years later, Jensen is a grown man who grows uneasy over shady closets and dark holes. Fitting conveniently into the film’s narrative, Jensen is forced to head back home. Once there, he decides to finally face his fears and prove they don’t exist. The only flaw in his plan is that his fears are indeed very real and dangerous.”Boogeyman” is a haunted house movie as much as a stalker flick. Jensen’s childhood home has fallen deep into cobweb-covered disuse over the years of his absence). Plastic drapes over a lot of the furniture and house, creating an eerie mood for the film. But Jensen does not limit himself to just the house, and crafts other spooky settings to exude an ominous tone.Watson does a decent job in his role, as do the other principal actors. The story focuses on Watson’s character primarily, with other characters introduced to add a tinge of mystery. The audience gets to meet Watson’s current girlfriend, his childhood friend and his uncle, but all of these characters are superficially developed. The only person the audience grows to care about is Jensen, which can be a little limiting.The acting from the secondary characters doesn’t deserve any serious complaints, but the actors also didn’t get too much to work with. Even Lucy Lawless, of “Xena” fame, is pushed into a secondary role.The film’s main problems arise from its convoluted narrative structure. The film was financed by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, and Raimi is no stranger to horror movies. “Boogeyman” would have benefited greatly from his direct involvement, as Kay simply lacked the experience coming into the film to make it stand out. The result is that the horror film clichés – loud noises, anti-climaxes and a computer-generated ending – are included in “Boogeyman.”The boogeyman has been the theme of many movies, but always indirectly. “The Nightmare on Elm Street” film series touched upon the theme, but the villainous Freddy Krueger wasn’t quite the boogeyman from classic childhood lore. While there are some striking similarities between the two, there are enough differences to distinguish “Boogeyman.” And barring its obvious shortcomings, the film ends up being enjoyable. It’s a treat for thrill-seekers to watch, even more so if they were frightened by the boogeyman concept as children.