Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
"One, two, three, four, five, SIX!"- Tim Jensen (Barry Watson)
Stars: Barry Watson
Other Stars: Emily Deschanel, Lucy Lawless, Tory Mussett, Charles Mesure, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Michael Saccente, Louise Wallace, Andrew Glover, Philip Gordon
Director: Stephen Kay
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for for intense sequences of horror/terror violence and some partial nudity
Run Time: 01h:28m:44s
Release Date: 2005-05-31
DVD ReviewAs a fan of dark and creepy, it always saddens me when a horror film falls short of its promise to deliver all the elements necessary to make for a scary good time. While there might be strong visuals it is the story that's weak, or perhaps it's a killer script but the execution is sloppy, and it is seldom that all the karmic conditions fall together in just the right way. Stephen Kay's Boogeyman, focusing on that perpetual nightmare-bringer for all children, operates under the "strong visuals" category, sadly forsaking a plot in favor of, well, just a series of scenes.
There is great promise shown during the opening sequence, when a young boy hears something go bump in the night in his room, only to end up watching his father, who has come to console him, get dragged kicking and screaming into the dark recesses of the bedroom closet by some unseen being. Kay does a terrific job building tension, employing menacing shadows, lightning flashes and creaking doors, and even if we know what's coming there is something undeniably slick about seeing what we think is just a pile of clothes rise up in the form of you-know-who.
Jump ahead 16 years, and Barry Watson (7th Heaven) plays Tim—the opening scene's young boy—all grown up and brooding; as to be expected, he is understandably still somewhat gunshy about closets and darkness. In standard plot element #1, he is forced to return to the creepy old homestead when his mother (Lucy Lawless in full crone makeup) dies, and of course he has to force himself to come face to face with his fears, which all builds to an inevitable confrontation with whatever CG evil lurks in the closet.
What that means for viewers is that Tim spends a lot of time walking slowly through his dark house, staring at doorknobs or having flashbacks about when his father used to lock him in closets in an attempt to overcome his boogeyman fears. His wealthy gal pal Jessica (Tory Mussett) gets cast aside for much of the story, showing up only when it's necessary for another secondary character to be put in peril, as does Tim's childhood friend Kate (Emily Deschanel). The introduction of a mysterious young girl (played wonderfully by Skye McCole Bartusiak) with a backpack full of secrets muddies up the final act, so much so that I was never entirely clear why characters had to do what they had to do.
This isn't the first horror film to either fall apart script-wise or to exist simply as a series of visual set pieces, but I had slightly higher hopes because it was produced by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, and their names would indicate that a film like Boogeyman should be something well above the bar. It just isn't. I know there's a market for films like this—nice-looking atmospheric horror that isn't particularly gory and tries hard to make you jump in your seat—but I always want a little story to go with it, too.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Boogeyman has been issued in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; it is a fairly strong print considering how dark the majority of the film is, and thankfully the black levels are solid throughout. Colors seem to have an intentionally overprocessed appearance to them, rendering fleshtones slightly less than warm, but they are, at the very least, consistent. There are some minor compression problems, though hardly a major distraction, but enough to be noticeable.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: A film like this would be useless without an active, aggressive audio mix, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks (English or dubbed French) really boosts and heightens the effect of Kay's jump scares. While the often mumbled dialogue is always clear, with very pronounced directional movement across the front channels, the rears get utilized with creepy discrete cues throughout the entire film. Ditto for the .LFE, with deep, low rumbles adding to the implied sense of dread.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Chinese with remote access
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring Guess Who, D.E.B.S., Man of the House, The Grudge, The Forgotten, Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid, The Cave, Lords of Dogtown, Stealth
6 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
Extras Review: For a "special edition" it seems highly unusual that there is not a commentary track, considering how common those are today, but yet this one is completely commentary-free. The extras are hardly remarkable, and for the most part could be just about any film, with focus on effects in Visual Effects Progressions (04m:30s) for four scenes and three scenes rendered as animatics (09m:24s). The Making of The Boogeyman (15m:07s) is a traditional two-part inside look, of minor note for producer Rob Tapert talking about his work on the cult classic Evil Dead, and how the intent was to create the same sort of genre buzz for this film.
There are also six Deleted Scenes (12m:46s), as well as an Alternate Ending (05m:58s). The excised clips are better than most chopped sequences, and a couple actually manage to flesh out a couple of backstories a bit. The alternate ending—presented with rough, incomplete effects—is somewhat darker in tone than what was eventually used.
In addition to a set of nine trailers (none for the feature, however), the disc is cut into 28 chapters, with optional subtitles in English, French or Chinese
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsThis is a classic example of "this looks good, why bother with a plot?", and it seems designed solely to fall in with the current batch of PG-13 horror that operates under the premise that jump scares alone are enough to carry a film.
But maybe I'm just jaded. Been there, done that. There is, however, a reviewer blurb on the front cover that calls this "the scariest movie—ever!", and statements like that just really make me wonder if people have ever actually seen a scary movie.
Rich Rosell 2005-06-15