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Thursday, February 11, 2021

‘Boogeyman’: Exhuming the Bones of a Good Movie Lying Within 2005’s Supernatural Creature Feature [You Aughta Know]

Hello, true believers, and welcome to You Aughta Know, a column dedicated to the decade that is now two full decades behind us. That’s right, it’s time to take a look back at one of the most overlooked decades of horror. Follow along as I do my best to explore the horror titles that made up the 2000s.

It was the week of February 4th in 2005. Does anyone remember the show Tilt? About poker? Me neither. Eminem dropped his “Like Toy Soldiers” single and in theaters, we got our first peek at what a live action Constantine would look like. But we’re not here to discuss the divisive Vertigo adaptation (yet).

Instead, we’re going to look under the bed and take a spin with Boogeyman

The idea and concept of “the boogeyman,” often spelled as “bogeyman,” dates back well into the 1700’s. ‘Bogey’ comes from ‘bogge,’ from Middle English and roughly translating to “something frightening.” For hundreds of years, in dozens of cultures, the boogeyman has existed and continues to exist so it only makes sense that it has been adapted into popular culture. Whether it’s a nickname for Michael Myers or the imaginary friends in the DCOM Don’t Look Under the Bed, we’ve seen the centuries old ghost story pop in and out of cinema. In 2005, Stephen Kay directed the joint affair between America and New Zealand, Boogeyman.

Getting picked up by two beloved production companies, Screen Gems and Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, Boogeyman had a lot of horror cred attached to it before it even dropped. Stephen Kay was an interesting choice to direct, having only really done crime thriller Get Carter up to that point, and he would go on to continue down a path of drama and crime work with episodes of Sons of Anarchy, The Punisher, and Friday Night Lights under his belt. 

Things get a little more fun when we see who wrote this movie. Although three screenwriters are attached, which does lead to some muddy pacing and storytelling, those writers are a neat surprise looking back on it. Wife and husband team Juliet Snowden and Stiles White would later write other aughts horror flick The Possession and Blumhouse board game vehicle Ouija, and our third writer? None other than the creator of beloved and long lasting genre television staple Supernatural, Eric Kripke. We even get a mother named Mary and a girlfriend named Jessica in the film; it’s a fun bit of foreshadowing for his future.

Boogeyman follows Tim, a young boy who saw his father killed by the boogeyman as a child but has been led to believe his father actually just ran out on his mom and him. Even with this belief, his fear of the dark (and closets) in particular stays with him well into his twenties. Over Thanksgiving weekend, during a trip to meet his girlfriend’s parents, he is told that his mother has passed and is forced to return home and confront his childhood trauma and fears. Upon his return, Tim is thrown into a supernatural nightmare where he’s left wondering if monsters do exist or if his sanity is slipping.

Like many movies from the 2000s, our lead is pulled straight from a WB/CW teen drama with Barry Watson of 7th Heaven fame playing Tim. Other entertaining roles include a pre-Bones Emily Deschanel as childhood friend Kate and post-Xena Lucy Lawless as his mother, Mary. What’s more interesting about this time, though, was how much J-horror was dominating the scene. Stephen Kay touched on this idea in interviews, saying that he was very inspired by the new trend of Japanese horror and how much the movies allowed themselves “to breathe.” 

Boogeyman gets a lot of flack but it honestly does a lot more right than it gets credit for. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski sets up all kinds of frantic, hard angles that do a suitable job at building up tension or ratcheting up some reality-warping action. The aesthetic of the movie gives that perfect “haunted house” feel: the wooden paneling of an abandoned home, the rusted swing sets and autumnal leaves blowing through a moody blue night, stormy nights with lightning flashes and thunder booms. 

Kay also stated he wanted to take the Jaws approach and show less of the creature until absolutely necessary and honestly, it works for most of the movie. They get creative with lighting and design to create false images and inventive allusions to the titular creature and, unfortunately, it is much better hinted at than seen. The movie also has some wild ideology with reality warping and teleportation, all via closet travel, that give the film some depth outside of just being a creature feature. (An idea introduced in Monsters Inc., of all places.)

It’s a shame that Boogeyman falters so much in the third act because it does a lot of great foundational work. It was revealed that they originally had a man in prosthetics playing the boogeyman, something that was eventually replaced with CGI, and this is one of those films that is only dated and painted in a worse light because of the CGI. It makes for an uneven and goofy finale that is jam packed with mad dash action and wonky effects. It’s doubly disappointing considering that the movie has so much fun working in the shadows and fringes, with playful homages to other haunted house stories and even a wink at A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Boogeyman is far from amazing but you can see the bones of a good movie here. If it had been able to ride the stated influences more and kept hold of that practically developed monster, it may have been another staple in the creature feature and ghost story genres. 



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3651782/boogeyman-exhuming-bones-good-movie-lying-within-2005s-supernatural-creature-feature-aughta-know/

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