Friday, June 2, 2023

‘Boogeyman’ – A Look Back at the Forgotten Trilogy from 2005-2008

This weekend, Rob Savage (Host) brings his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Boogeyman to theaters. But for those of us who were of horror-watching age eighteen years ago (that hurts to say out loud), there was 2005’s Boogeyman… a horror film that launched an entire trilogy.

That first movie was successful enough to spawn both Boogeyman 2 and Boogeyman 3, though both sequels went straight to video here in the States. So, in honor of the upcoming The Boogeyman, let us take a look back at the Boogeymen of old. Even if they are completely and utterly unrelated in every way possible… and we cannot stress that enough.


Directed by Stephen Kay (who would end up with a very successful career directing TV series episodes such as YellowstoneFriday Night Lights and The Shield), Boogeyman came to us at an interesting time for the horror genre. “Torture porn” was in full swing with Wolf Creek, Saw and Hostel all releasing. PG-13 horror competition included The Grudge, The Skeleton Key and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Platinum Dunes had their Amityville Horror remake, Rob Zombie had The Devil’s Rejects, Zack Snyder had Dawn of the Dead, and The Descent melted all of our faces. It was a strong two years between 2003 and 2005. Not so much for the ole’ Boogeyman, however, which was not very well received. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t have its moments.

Tim, played by Barry Watson (Sorority Boys, Teaching Mrs. Tingle), grows up in psychiatric care after he sees his dad dragged into the closet by a mysterious dark force and thrown around like Jim Carrey during the shark scene in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Spoiler Alert: It was, in fact, the Boogeyman). Now that he’s older, the death of his mother and haunting visions bring him back to the house where it all started. There, the Boogeyman tries to lure him into closets, drawers and various dark orifices in an effort to finish what he started.

The main issue at the core of the movie is undoubtedly the editing. For whatever reason it feels like we’re constantly trapped between a tag team of the dude who filmed those shaky Jason Bourne fight scenes and the guy who edited those freak out cuts from the Saw movies. There are, however, rad moments of camerawork featuring the camera gliding through the spooky atmospheres with a Sam Raimi-esque vibe (the trilogy is produced by Raimi’s own Ghost House Pictures, it’s interesting to note). Once we’re inside the lovely home of death, the atmosphere is similar to that of the Blumhouse “floating chair” opening. It’s just unfortunate the execution never matches the ambiance. There’s really just not much happening until the end of the film. And that’s where things get messier than a Fyre Festival lunch line.

The final act of Boogeyman throws the entire kitchen sink at your face. The confrontation with the closet monster shows him up close quite a bit and he goes through multiple physical form changes. It’s a tall task for a movie that up to this point has shown you nearly nothing aside from a pair of Hulk-Hands grabbing at Tim in the closet. Unfortunately, the majority of the creature that they‘ve suddenly decided to show so much of is very noticeably unrealistic and awkward. Especially with the editing making what’s unfolding on screen harder to untangle than an Original Nintendo controller wire. The WORST part of cleaning your room in the ’90s.

There’s something to be said for the dark aura and atmosphere of Boogeyman and the flurry of attempted punches in the final round. Even if none of them end up landing.

BOOGEYMAN 2 (2007)

Back in 2007, I kept hearing from folks that Boogeyman 2 was shockingly scarier and overall better than the original. I would tend to agree based on one aspect of this film that goes harder than Halloween III’s Dr. Challis at an open bar: the death scenes.

Boogeyman 2 trades in the supernatural dread for a mostly straight up slasher sequel. Laura (Danielle Savre) and her brother (Matt Cohen) witness their parents brutally murdered by a home invader who is never captured. They deem him “The Boogeyman” while dealing with their trauma and develop an unhealthy phobia. This leads to them each eventually checking into a mental health clinic run by Dr. Mitchell Allen (none other than Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell) and we have ourselves a situation very reminiscent of A Nightmare On Elm Street: Dream Warriors. Each of the other teenagers in the mental facility have their own issues – ranging from an extreme fear of the dark to bulimia – when a masked killer shows up and (very Freddy Krueger like) uses their mental traumas to torture and kill them in various fashions.

The kills are mean, brutal and often. For instance (spoiler incoming), a kid named Paul (Johnny Simmons) is an extreme germaphobe. So, the killer sneaks gigantic cockroaches into his food and when he accidentally chews one the killer shows up and hands him a gigantic bottle of hardcore industrial cleaner, which he chugs. The camera then treats the audience to the after effects of his chemically burned and melted throat. He forces tubes inside the mouth and body of an anorexic girl, pumping her with fat until she literally explodes. This killer may have an uninspired spray painted Dollar General Halloween skull mask on his face, but he’s as gnarly as they come when it’s time to put a hurting on folks.

Boogeyman 2 is absolutely a mixed bag where you have to wade through a very questionably acted (at times) and non-campy melodramatic soap opera flair to get to the goods. But for those in search of a lower budget and extreme slasher with a mean streak the likes of ole’ Freddy himself? This one has some gems deep within it. Despite the complete and total change in subgenre from one film to the next, Boogeyman 2 actually offers a surprising amount of connections to our “surviving” characters from the first film, giving us a dark update on how well everyone fared afterwards. (Warning: It’s about as depressing as Googling how many of the bars from John Taffer’s “Bar Rescue” are still operating today.)

BOOGEYMAN 3 (2008)

Somehow, Boogeyman 3 featured the same writers as Boogeyman 2 yet feels like it was made by a complete stranger. The film picks up with Audrey (Nikki Sanderson), the daughter of Tobin Bell’s character from Boogeyman 2. It follows her to college after she reads her father’s journal (or rather, the journal is read to us by a guy who isn’t Tobin Bell doing “Tobin Bell voice”). The Boogeyman shows up at her college and is now a completely different entity than we’ve seen before. No longer possessing a human, he is now somewhat of a mix between the demon from the cover of Night of the Demons 3, Baghuul from Sinister, one of the dudes from Insidious, and the lead guy under the stairs in The People Under the Stairs. He suddenly moves in strange electrical bursts. Sort of like Samara from The Ring as she crawls out of the TV. Unfortunately, it kind of just plays as though he’s not actually in the room. As if he’s some sort of green screened Kool Aid Man wall hole light projection. Look, I genuinely don’t know what’s going on here. I wish I could help. I wish I could help myself understand.

To put a positive spin on it, the film is able to successfully move the storyline from a mental hospital to a college full of potential victims and the story adds a few interesting layers. The main character Sarah (Erin Cahill) hosts a student-run radio show and they present the idea (and familiar horror trope) that the more people hear about the Boogeyman, the more powerful he becomes. The movie takes this premise and uses the reach of Sarah’s radio show to some interesting results and many murders. One in particular involving someone’s head being shoved into a broken bong. Which, you obviously have to respect.

All in all, Boogeyman 3 doesn’t have the tools to stand on its own and isn’t interested enough in the other two films to reasonably add to their lore either. This franchise seems more confused about what to do with itself than I am, half in the bag, staring at a Cheesecake Factory menu. I mean, have you seen those things? They’re thicker than a VHS copy of Titanic. Too many options. So many of them not cheesecake.

Putting the entire Boogeyman franchise into perspective, there are interesting ideas in each film. It’s a strange little franchise that Ghost House Pictures brought to us over the course of three years. I think there could have been a real audience for it but unfortunately none of the movies ever really formed into anything with staying power.

Who knows? Maybe someday they’ll try again. For now, we’re looking forward to the horrors that await in The Boogeyman, which again has nothing to do with THIS Boogeyman…

The post ‘Boogeyman’ – A Look Back at the Forgotten Trilogy from 2005-2008 appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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