"Boogeyman" is supposed to be a movie about everyone's biggest fear growing up as a child: the dormant monster living in your closet that waits in the middle of the night for the right moment to snatch you from your bed. But this film is a tactical assault on the senses. It's loud, obnoxious, inappropriate, and above all a story about nothing.
Well, not exactly. Doors slam at the sound of exploding dynamite, bathtub faucets shriek like bullet trains, and a windshield cracks so loud that the Richter scale takes notice. Nail guns spray exploding pieces of metal into wooden boards that sound like imploding buildings when splintered. And it doesn't stop for 86 minutes, during which the movie manages to do nothing but try to make your eardrums bleed.
To make up for the nothingness, the film is coated in loud sound effects and is tossed up with flashbacks and jumps-cuts that have no logic. Characters convene in dark, unlit hallways. Ghosts show up; sometimes in the form of conventional ghosts, and other times as a girl who swings on the playground long past her bedtime. Characters show up just to die for no plausible reason, and by the next scene the survivors forget they ever existed.
Like so many other modern horror tales, this one opens with ominous sounds sending a frightened young boy under the covers. A freakishly large creature jumps out at him. Just dad. After a near stroke, the boy tells his father that "he" is in the room. Dad does a search to prove nothing's there. Big mistake. A blaring noise from the theater sound system rapes the audience as the dad is picked up by an unseen force and tossed against the ceiling, back to the floor, and then dragged into the closet where a door slams at the sound of exploding dynamite.
Then the door opens just as loudly as it shut; dad is again tossed against the ceiling and back to the floor a couple more times before getting dragged into the closet where the door yet again slams at the sound of exploding dynamite.
I think you get the point.
Fifteen years later Tim (Barry Watson) is an adult and spending Thanksgiving with his girlfriend, Jessica (Tory Mussett ) and her family at their elegant home. At dinner her father boorishly asks him why he isn't spending Thanksgiving with his own family. Disgusted, Jessica tries to make her dad feel guilty by telling him that Tim's father ran away when he was eight years old and that he had to live in a small room behind his uncle's bar.
"Did you see the look on his face when I told him you grew up in a small room behind your uncle's bar?" she asks when they leave the table. "I did grow up in a small room behind my uncle's bar," he reminds her. "I know, I just like messing with him."
What follows is a call from his uncle to return home. He arrives in time to attend his mother's funeral and visit an old counselor who insults him for seeing her when she primarily works with children. She advises him to spend one more night in the house to cure whatever problem is still plaguing him.
Taking the unethical advice, Tim goes back to his old house which is, of course, empty, save for old furniture covered in plastic. He bumps into his childhood friend, Kate (Emily Deschanel), who still lives next door. They are reacquainted after he hears her fall off a black horse she was riding in her backyard.
Tim doesn't want to flat-out tell her he believes that the Boogeyman is still lurking around after all these years, probably because he doesn't want to give off the "insane" impression. He's one of those characters that doesn't respond to questions from concerned girlfriends and neighbors. When Jessica complains (she shows up later) that she can't take his silence, he gives her a long, blank stare and mumbles off.
At one point Tim is inexplicably trapped in a closet. He panics and runs into every corner like a blindfolded bull, and only after knocking every box off the shelf does he decide to try the doorknob. Funny how doors open when you try the knob.
Knowing the eminent fate of their movie, the production studio allowed the film to hit theaters without any advance screening for critics. And I'm sure the financers paid the MPAA to rate "Boogeyman" PG-13 "for intense sequences of horror and terror/violence, and some partial nudity" in order to fill seats.
The "partial nudity" is a topless woman…seen from behind under murky water. Jack Black shows more skin in "School of Rock."
The "intense sequences of horror" represent the decision of the editing department to load the movie with random, MTV-style jump-cuts signaled by loud crashing noises and bright lights at a speed too quick for us to see what's going on.
For example, while slowly (and I mean slowly) exploring the house, Tim remembers a point in his life when he was locked in a closet. This triggers a jump-cut which triggers a flashback to when Tim was locked in a closet. Various noises and random shots show a young child sitting in a closet.
Then there's the plot holes. It's hard to imagine a movie with such gaping logic when three screenwriters materialized the film. Yet much goes unexplained, such as why Tim can suddenly travel back through time to various stages in the film. Nothing explains his ability to walk into a motel closet and out into his old house in one motion.
Then there’s the actual Boogeyman. The editing department succeeds in keeping you from seeing him, because there's so many cuts and flashing lights that it's impossible to see what's happening. He appears briefly in a cartoonish sequence utilizing CGI, but the loud violin screeching distracts you from paying attention to the screen.
And then the movie ends -- just like that -- without a single attempt to explain the 86 minutes of pure, pukka garbage. Not a single, plausible, logical explanation is offered. Though it's still way too early to tell, I won't be surprised -- and this coming from a critic who's seen Uwe Boll's "Alone in the Dark" -- if this turns out to be the worst film of the year.