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Stephen Kay, USA, 2005

Rating: 2.0


Posted: February 9, 2005

I'm beginning to understand how Simon Cowell of American Idol fame feels when sonic assassins confront him, each claiming to be a superstar in waiting. It is no different with the horror genre of cinema. They promise you Romero and Hitchcock, but they deliver William Hung and Yoko Ono. See where this is heading?

Boogeyman deals with a man tormented by the disappearance of his father. That's certainly understandable. However, what makes it worse is that dear ol' dad disappeared when the man was only a child. And what really makes it worse is that his father was snatched right before his eyes into a closet by... you guessed it: the Boogeyman!

Since that time, our protagonist is very wary of closets. (He was probably the only guy in the world who was petrified by Pixar's Monsters, Inc. a few years back. Although that Billy Crystal can be one scary mutha.) He's so scared of closets, in fact, that he goes so far as to take the doors off all his cabinets, and having a refrigerator with a glass door with perpetual light inside. And by the way, Clive Barker must have designed the bedroom this kid lived in. I mean really, there are open windows with fluttering drapes, creepy things hung about the room, a doll positioned in a menacing stance right next to the kid's bed, and clothes draped over chairs that yield a terrifying silhouette in the moonlight. Cripes, why not just drape a cadaver over the child's headboard? I can see why the Boogeyman picked this kid's room to crib in.

Anyway, fast forward fifteen years later, and the traumatized kid is now a man still haunted by that memory. Therapists have almost convinced him that he made up the story to deal with his dad's leaving... almost.

As an adult going to visit his girlfriend's parents, our man gets a premonition of his mother's death, followed by a phone call announcing -- you guessed it again -- his mother's death. Returning home for the funeral, our hero decides it would be a good idea to go knock around the old house he grew up in. (Yeah, sure, I mean, why not? When spooky coincidences happen to me, the first thing I do is head back to scenes where I was traumatized as a kid. Heck, I'm not the only one: Laurence Station still makes regular visits to Neverland Ranch whenever he gets a hangnail. But I digress.)

The trip home conjures all kinds of bad memories from our buddy's childhood. There are frantic camera shots and attempts at cheap thrills along the way, but the fact of the matter is that for, oh, I'd say an hour and fifteen minutes, this is a film about nothing -- and not in the Seinfeld sense of the term, either. (Note to aspiring directors: Creaking doors and spooky camera angles do not count as substance.)

Predictably, the whole PG-13 mess builds toward an inevitable showdown with the dreaded Boogeyman. A setup this dreadfully long has to be worth the wait, right? Right? (Cue sounds of crickets chirping and tumbleweed blowing by.)

So what do we get for sitting through all that buildup? We get a crappy CGI Boogeyman so lame, he couldn't scare a French person into surrendering. Man, what a letdown. Instead of some creepy dude lumbering out of the closet, we get zooming cameras chasing spirit winds and pseudo-Poltergeist phantoms. This just blows! And the movie had such an excellent premise to work with, too.

Also, thanks to the PG-13 anchor, we don't get treated to any sweet nudity, especially from the hot brunette who lives next door to the haunted dwelling. C'mon folks, you gotta gimme something to work with here! Sadly, all the audience gets is a clichéd setup and an uninspired ending. And that just ain't good enough.

Boogeyman deals with the all-too-common fear of the monster in the closet. Think about it: What would you do if there were a man hiding in your closet? If you're one of the unenlightened sheep who regularly writes in to complain about my reviews, you'd probably splash on some Brute aftershave and recline invitingly across your satin-sheeted bed. As unappealing a thought as that is, it's far, far scarier than anything in Boogeyman. And somewhere along the line, someone forgot that to scare is the first job of a scary movie.

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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