“And then there was…Boogeyman.”
(obsequious applause from desperately underemployed audience)
“What a marvelous performance.”
“Thank you, James. Coming from the man who wrote the teleplay for Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, that means a lot!”
May I picture you in a Speedo on South Beach hoisting the entertainment world over your shoulder like a glorious, sun-drenched Atlas?”
You know, every kid dreams of the scary thing in the closet or under the bed, and then you wake up and everyone in the movie around you is better known as a model in a Winsor Pilates infomercial.
You know that dream.
Before Freddy, before Jason, there were irrational and nonsensical childhood fears and the studios which exploit them to earn a buck. In this case, that studio is Screen
Gems, Sony’s armpit division for films which are deeply embarrassing to the corporate parent but still irresistibly profitable.
Boogeyman is produced by Spider-Man and Evil Dead honcho Sam Raimi, and by “produced” I mean “poked with a stick at arm’s distance.” Boogeyman contains not an ounce of Sam’s characteristic humor, and a Raimi movie without humor is Kevin Costner’s For Love of the Game.
After a promising start, Boogeyman descends rapidly to that place where the scariest thing under the bed is a dust bunny and the most horrible monstrosity in the closet is that David Lee Roth Halloween costume.
Where are all the Kinko’s employees when you need them? In featured roles in Boogeyman, that’s where. This movie brings to the big screen that corner of the Hollywood talent pool where “who’s your agent?” means “where will you be patrolling Sunset in your ‘actor for hire’ sandwich-board?”
Our hero, Tim, is a very disturbed man. Seemingly cast for his benign gaze rather than his benign skills, Tim is the perfect foil for a demon who lurks in the shadows beside Penelope Cruz’s career.
And who is this Boogeyman? He is a dead ringer for rapper DMX, that’s who. But less into mad rhymes than mad abductions.
The audience I saw this flick with was so punchy, they were screaming at the credits. Then again, those names are easily the horrors we should fear most.
What makes the scary moments in this movie work is that they happen FAST. All of this is so predictable, the filmmakers are saying, let’s just SPEED IT UP! Then let’s drop frames to make it as herky-jerky as possible – and if we add some Keystone Cops we don’t even need sound!
It’s as if the filmmakers started with a few scary moments and were then forced to construct a story around them. No wonder plot twists are random: Pretzel logic is the best you can hope for when all other logic is on the side of a milk carton stamped “MISSING.”
Our hero must spend the night in his now creepy boyhood home. Creepy in part because his uncle is doing a lot of work on the house, which in this case means spreading around some plastic sheeting instead of picking up a paint brush.
The climax comes when he decides to face his fears and defeat the Boogeyman. He enters a house where the interior is covered with graffiti. The previous resident went insane thanks to the Boogeyman: “He was trying to understand it, trying to give it a name”. I say just name it “Madison” and get back to Kinko’s for the late-shift.
It’s never a good sign when, at a movie’s end, a character asks “is it over?” and the audience laughs.
It seems I’m not the only one who’s boogie-bored.
Photos Copyright ©2005 Screen Gems
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