I remember being freaked out by the trailers for this movie when I was younger. Something about the nebulous, shadowy threat and the nature of something as omnipresent as the Boogeyman threatening a man throughout his whole life scared the crap out of me. Even now, I was a little hesitant to press the play button, just because I'm a huge coward. But Halloween is a time for confronting your fears and getting some fun out of a good scare, so I ventured in to 2005's Boogeyman.
We are brought into the movie with a few Hellraiser chimes and a crawling zoom through a spooky, Victorian house. The camera finally lands inside of a little boy's room as he tries to go to sleep. No wonder the poor boy is nervous, his entire house has been built on a dutch tilt!
He is repeatedly alarmed by the various objects in his room that take on ghoulish shapes in the darkness, such as a crow mobile, a freaky looking alien toy that no responsible parent would give to a little kid, and even a robe that looks like a hooded figure. Things start to get weird when it looks like one of the shadows comes to life and stalks towards him, but I guess it was actually just the boy's father, checking in on him.
He assures his son that there is nothing in the room that can harm him, even checking under the bed and in the closet to put his fears at rest. But then something ACTUALLY lunges out of the closet and grabs daddy, flinging him around while the camera goes NUTS. He is pulled into the blackness and we get our title.
Fifteen years later, the young boy has grown up into Tim, some scruffy looking, mid-2000s dickwad complaining about a lack of Vodka at a party. He is still freaked out by dark doorways, but at least has his girlfriend Jessica to give him a little back up. He shares plans with his friends to spend Thanksgiving with Jess's parents and walks home through a scary Dark Park.
There is a nice bit of visual storytelling when we get to Tim's apartment; It is very well illuminated and contains almost no dark corners. His clothing is kept in a dresser drawer or on a rack in the middle of the room, his bed is a mattress on the floor and he even has a glass refrigerator and has taken the doors off of all his cabinets. It is clear that the memory of what happened that night is still fresh in his mind and he has taken steps to avoid it happening again.
On the way to Jessica's place, Tim gets a call from his uncle telling him to come home, which he ignores. Over an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, the somewhat dry, stilted dialogue of the movie starts to come to light as Tim explains that his father left him as a child. His room is a little shadowy for his liking, and we start to see the Tim still lives like a child in many ways, even needing to sleep with the lights on to feel safe. His girlfriend joins him in bed, but then-
Momma! The girlfriend is actually his mother! His mother is his girlfriend! What does it mean? Not bothering to delve too far into the implications of this oedipal dream, Tim freaks out and gets harassed by a gross mother ghost who takes pinching his cheeks a little too far, until the phone rings. It turns out that his mother died and Uncle Frank wants Tim to come home for the funeral. He gibbers out half an excuse and leaves his confused girlfriend to drive back to his old town.
After a brief visit with his old psychiatrist, where Tim sees that he is not the only kid with a deathly fear of dark spaces, Tim attends his mother's funeral. The body in the casket is clearly just Lucy Lawless with such unconvincing old person make up on her that it looks more like a camera filter, and she gives another jump scare when Tim briefly hallucinates her grabbing him. Give mommy a kiss!
Tim decides that after years of absence, he might as well clean up the old place and drives back to his childhood home. Of all things, a crow flies right into his windshield on an empty stretch of highway and freaks Tim out AGAIN. Look at this poor guy. He's a mess. He's got anxiety.
As Tim starts to tour the old place, more sweeping camera shots remind us of all the little things that freak him out, like the sounds conjured by wind that wafts through the old place that is in the middle of renovations, or a flashback he has of his Lucy Lawless mother yelling at his dad for freaking his son out with stories about the boogeyman.
Tim attempts to go upstairs to his room, but is stopped by clips from a Rob Zombie video. He heads back downstairs and outside, just in time to see his childhood friend Kate take a header off of the back of her riding horse. They head inside and Tim gets some ice for her while they just let the horse wander off. Yeah, thanks for nothing you hoofed asshole! Kate mumbles out memories of happier times and departs, leaving Tim to spot a strange, flickering light in a closet at the end of a hall. He investigates and is spooked by his own reflection, then tries to leave, only to get locked in.
Up until now, I was honestly on the fence as to whether anything in this film could be considered supernatural. The opening might have been a nightmare, and every scare we've had since then has just stemmed from Nick's own neurosis. But as he spazzes out in the closet, what is clearly a shadowy hand grabs a hold of him and Tim finally escapes. Then he laughs, because...he's crazy now? Or now he knows he's not crazy?
Anyways, that night, Tim spots a little girl that he saw from the funeral in the workshed and asks her why she's following him. The girl, who's name is Frannie, asks him about the Boogeyman and whether or not his father was taken by him. Tim says yes and offers her some advice that his dad tried to give him in the worst way possible. In a way of teaching his boy to face his fears on par with forcing an eight year old to shoot a deer, Dad locked young Tim in a closet under the stairs and only let him out when he closed his eyes, calmed down and counted to five. This act on the dad's part borders on abuse, but weirdly isn't painted in a negative light. Tim gives Frannie the same advice, minus the whole “Lock you in a dark closet” part and sends her home, prompting Frannie to inquire about the “Count to five” lesson with a question that's supposed to be deep but delves into dumb: “What happens when you get to six?”.
On his way back inside, Tim finds Frannie's bag, which is filled with fliers of missing children. Seems as though The Boogieman, or whatever this thing is, has been busy since Tim. He goes to investigate a noise and finds a whole cadre of kid ghosts from the fliers that swarm and sort of, paw at him a little bit. The spooky hall closet opens back up and Tim bails, running into Jessica who somehow followed him all the way here. Despite the fact that he was deliberately vague when he left in a hurry.
Tim is the source of a lot of this stuttering “I have to go, I don't know, I don't KNOW! I gotta go!” dialogue that pervades the entire film and really makes me wish he'd either take a breath or just shut up. They take refuge in a motel while Kate wanders back to the spook house, not knowing that Tim has left. Then back at the motel, it turns out something is creeping on Jess while she gets ready to take a bath and Tim gets some ice to fix them a pair of..ugh, Red Bull Vodkas.
The 2000s were rough on everybody.
Tim finds that Jessica has just kind of vanished, and traces his bad vibes back to an unused closet on the other side of the room. This film actually starts to display a bit of promise when Tim opens and delves into the closet, only to appear out of a wardrobe back in the house in time to scare Kate. He gibbers out another stream of useless half-dialogue and runs back to the hotel with Kate, finding everything exactly as he left it. The boy here just isn't thinking with portals. Investigating the tub where Jess disappeared shows a bloody hand print on the side, which is enough to creep Kate right out of the room and back home, telling Tim that he needs help.
Tim meets back up with Frannie by a playground and tells her that he also believes in whatever the Boogeyman is. As Kate asks uncle Frank to check in on Tim, he and Frannie stumble by some random house and start poking around, Tim explaining that he used to hang out here. This place doesn't have much set up, and is just the way to introduce us to some crazy guy who used to live there, you know, that special kind of horror movie crazy that makes you right all over everything and strap yourself to a chair in the middle of the room, then get eaten by something. Tim and Frannie think that the guy was trying to understand The Boogeyman and give it a name, but his fear got the better of him. A convenient draft sheds light on a far wall, revealing that Frannie was actually one of the kids from the fliers, and that the mad madman was actually her father. She tells Tim to go back to where it began that “You can only save yourself” and vanishes.
So ghost kids are totally a thing now. What are their rules? How come Frannie is the only one who can hang around town and speak? This movie is all over the place.
We get a brief scene of Uncle Mike getting a call from Kate to check on Tim and poke around the place, but he is quickly grabbed by the time Tim gets there. Tim starts to board up all the doors in his house before finally returning to his old room. Then this ghost force or whatever it is blows away all of the doors in the name of making a big damn mess and a lot of noise, but Tim sticks around. With a few whispered words of encouragement from Frannie, who's back now, Tim delves into his old closet.
Things start to get simultaneously more interesting and a lot more bewildering as the timeline literally jumps all over the place. Tim pops through the closet and then out from under a bed back in the Motel, hearing Jess in the bath. He goes in to find Jess struggling with a CGI mess and tries to help her, leaving the bloody hand print that he and Kate found after he bashes his head. I am ridiculously confused by all of this. Did Tim travel back in time? Where was the Tim of this timeline when the Tim we are following showed up? Why did the Boogiewhatever even target Jessica at all? Jess mentions that she had a fear of drowning as a child, which explains the bath monster, but how is Tim tied into all this? Jess was only barely involved, and it seems like the Boogeyman goes after children, not fully grown, naked blonde ladies.
She gets sucked down the drain or something and Tim runs back into the closet and appears back inside the old house, this time right before Mike gets attacked. He fights an increasingly visible Boogeyman, who kind of looks like a gross bald clown or something, and then gets shrink wrapped in packing tape off screen in a way that I imagine should be scary but comes off as hilarious. Mike seems to see Tim as the Boogeyman earlier on, making me think that there's more to this than meets the eye, (They kind of look like they're wearing similar outfits) but no. Nothing really comes of this. Mike gets nabbed and dragged into the closet and Tim runs after him, this time into Kate's room. This is just the worst episode of Quantum Leap ever. Kate gets dragged under the bed and Tim grabs hold of her, depositing them both back in Tim's old bedroom. Wait, why didn't The Boogeyman just eat them both, like he did with Jess and Mike? Can he only do it one at a time? Explain movie? There's grappling with the fear of the unknown, and then there's just not fleshing out your story enough.
Tim decides enough is enough and nails a chair to the floor, confronting the Boogieman as it emerges. And man, is it silly looking. Just some big, growly bald guy in a robe that might be spooky if it wasn't rendered with some pretty bad CGI. This climax follows a bad trend that a lot of 00's movie had when it came to horror films. Any sense of haunting or freaky atmosphere just goes right out the window in favour of something big and loud or effects heavy. Just look at the remake of The Haunting to see what I'm talking about. Anyways, Tim gets the idea that The Boogieman looks so ridiculous because it is actually a patchwork of all the items that originally scared him in his room as a child. He destroys them one by one, ridding the Boogieman of each factor while the monster tries to just suck them both into closet now. It's pretty stupid.
As Tim crushes the last action figure, The Boogieman disintegrates and vanishes back into the closet, leaving the traumatized Tim and Kate to watch the sun come up and Tim to sort of uncertainly state that it's over. How do you know? The Boogieman was a composite of your own fears, and was killing people around you to get to you! Did you create it? Tim, are you a secret wizard? What even was that thing?
Some dumb ass grunge rock takes us into the ending credits, and I found out that the head creative mind of this was Eric Kripke, the guy who did Supernatural. That actually explains a lot.
Boogeyman is all over the place. It tries to be a slow paced film about hauntings and childhood fears, then it tries to confront us with darkness and terror of the unknown, then it creates a big stupid climax full of CGI monsters, then it doesn't explain anything, then it throws some ghost kids in there for good measure. What happened to the boogieman's victims? Why did it choose them, or even just leave Tim alone for 15 years? Is it from human subconsciousness, or some kind of hammerspace inside of everybody's closet, or maybe the fear dimension from The Hole? It seems that Eric Kripke learned his lesson, and made a show where every monster has all of it's info written down in a book or is clearly explained. The dialogue is bad, the acting is OKAY at best and the monster is a lot scarier when it's some unknown force and not a wannabe dementor. The movie had potential, and poked at it occasionally with Tim following the Boogeyman through his dimension, but fizzles with a rushed conclusion and a lack of details as to what is even going on. This movie could have had something with a looming presence and a sense of creeping dread, but often ruins the mood with whooshing camera angles and cheap jumpscares. What the hell was up with that crow in the windshield? I can suggest you just give this movie a pass, unless like me, you (ironically enough) want to put an old childhood fear to bed.