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Hollywood Reporter

7 February 2005

Boogeyman Review

An uncommon level of talent (including Sam Raimi as producer) is associated with this relatively subtle, low-key horror movie, but that doesn't prevent "Boogeyman" from succumbing to the same deadly fate as many of its characters. Although the film attempts to ape the psychological complexity of many of the recent Japanese entries in the genre, it suffers from a lack of genuine chills or suspense that renders its slight virtues rather moot. The film, which opened Friday sans press screenings, should, by sheer dint of its title, attract a decent number of horror fans before succumbing to the video bins.

Barry Watson of TV's "7th Heaven" plays the central role of Tim, a troubled young man whose psyche was understandably scarred when, as a child, he witnessed his father violently sucked into his closet by the boogeyman, never to be seen again. Now, Tim takes highly understandable precautions, including placing his bed directly on the floor and keeping his house free of closets.

Unfortunately, when his mother (Lucy Lawless) dies and he returns to his forbidding family home in the country, Tim, on the rather dubious advice of a shrink, stays overnight in his old house in order to confront his childhood demons.

There, along with a young girl (Skye McCole Bartusiak) who had apparently disappeared many years ago, Tim finds himself in a deadly battle with a malevolent force that may or may not be merely a figment of his imagination.

Director Stephen Kay ("Get Carter") manages to sustain the requisite level of tension, infusing the proceedings with the usual procession of aural and visual stock devices designed to wake the audience from their peaceful slumber. The empty-headed screenplay, which took three people to write, never rises above the level of cliche, and the best that can be said for the enterprise is that it lacks the gratuitous gore and nudity so prevalent to the genre. A more cynical explanation may be that they were just looking to maximize business with a PG-13 rating.