Making the Grades
Boogeyman begins on a dark and stormy night. Curtains flap in the wind, tree limbs scratch against the side of the house and bolts of lightening jar the sky. Marshaling a whole mishmash of horror flick elements like black crows, foggy nights, bathroom scenes and creepy sounds, the script seems bent on using every ingredient ever invented for the genre. Unfortunately the abundance of fright tactics appears to have scared off any semblance of a storyline.
When Tim Jensen (Caden St. Clair) was eight years old, he witnessed a terrifying event. Fifteen years later as an adult, he (Barry Watson) is still traumatized by poorly lit rooms and closets with doors left ajar. These outwardly innocent objects send him into a speechless, glassy-eyed state that's beginning to annoy his girlfriend Jessica (Tory Mussett). As well, it leaves her (and the audience) questioning the mental stability of her latest love interest.
Then an unexpected death causes him to return to his childhood home for a funeral. Convinced it will help him overcome his aberrant fear, his psychologist recommends he spend one night in the empty, rundown residence.
It's not hard to guess where the film goes from there.
Piling jump scenarios one on top of the other, the movie becomes a series of jumbled camera shots, quick cuts and unexplained screeches. The introduction of Tim's old neighborhood pal (Emily Deschanel) and a sullen adolescent girl (Skye McCole Bartusiak) who claims to know his secret, seems to be leading the plot in a certain direction. But they, as so many details in the story, fail to tie in and eventually lead nowhere. Likewise, many of Tim's actions are senseless. It's one thing to wander around in the dark when the power is out. It's quite another to fail to flick on the light switch in order to dispel a paralyzing panic attack.
Along with the startle factor, this film contains some content concern for young viewers. Shots of back nudity in a motel room and exposed flesh in a bathroom scene are depicted along with a nail gun used as a weapon, a man (including his face) wrapped in painter's plastic, and thrashing bodies.
However, bodies aren't the only things flip-flopping about. The film struggles between becoming a psychological thriller or a supernatural phenomenon. After wandering relentlessly for the last 20 minutes in search of a feasible ending, both the special effects and story line fail miserably to hold up.
While the Boogeyman plays on a common childhood fear, the conclusion will likely leave more audience members horrified about the price they paid for their ticket than terrified by this hokey closet dweller.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Boogeyman.
How did Tim’s fear of the Boogeyman start? Was his father’s method of helping him overcome his fear a productive one? What stories or urban myths did you hear as a child that made you afraid? How do you do to deal with your fears? Count, sing, giggle, cover your head with the blanket?
To create tension, directors often use common objects or situations to cause a feeling of apprehension or fear. Why is that more effective than using unusual items? How do camera angles, lighting and shadow also play into generating uneasiness?