The Boogeyman is Real and We Have Proof
Score 7/10 - A Worthy Watch
Posted by Anthony DeRouen | February 9th, 2022
Synopsis - A young man tries to deal with the childhood terror that has never stopped haunting him.
Producer Sam Raimi is no stranger to horror. Mr. Raimi created the Evil Dead franchise and founded Ghost House Pictures which spawned an impressive list of successful horror films such as the Grudge, 30 Days of Night, Drag Me to Hell, Poltergeist (2015) and Don’t Breathe, to name a few.
Boogeyman, directed by Stephen Kay and based on a story by Eric Kripke tells the tale of a young man haunted by a childhood entity which claimed the life of his father – or so he thinks. Barry Watson plays the titular character Tim Jensen. If you never heard of Barry Watson then you probably didn’t watch 7th Heaven, and that’s okay! Barry was a relative unknown to the genre. After watching Boogeyman you have to ponder why Barry didn’t pursue any further roles in thriller or suspense. Because he certainly had the range for it.
We’ve sat through a version of Boogeyman a number of times. Childhood trauma leads to the oft predictable adult journey back to where it started. Boogeyman is 89 minutes of slow and steady unraveling, and while we have seen this play before Sam Raimi’s long-time producing partner, Robert Tapert ensures this particular ride is fresh and unnerving. The camera work, set designs and score (done by Joseph LoDuca of Evil Dead fame) set Boogeyman apart from lesser monster-in-the-closet films we’ve seen plenty of through the years.
The use of Tim Jensen’s childhood toys to build out the monster was an effective tool. For most of the film we’re torn between believing this supernatural presence is real, or something Tim is projecting. Elements of time travel can be found here as well, further adding to the mystery.
I wanted to take this time to highlight Boogeyman’s skillful use of dreary color palettes. Boogeyman was shot on 35mm Panavision and processed on a 2k digital intermediate, so the data was there if Stephen Kay and Robert Tapert wanted to widen the color gamut or heighten the picture quality. At the time DVD’s were still popular with the age of Blu Ray just beginning to crest over the horizon. This film fits the 720p medium. Colors are noticeably flat, the sky slips between shades of faded yellow and brown, and the town Barry Watson’s character lives in is about as inviting as a one way trip to Hell.
Unsurprisingly, Sam Raimi’s prior effort, The Grudge, followed a similar template of muted colors and unwelcoming locations to great success. To add: Boogeyman was released on blu-ray on a limited run. Copies are hard to come by.
To summarize: Boogeyman thrives on its seemingly impenetrable darkness and shadow, and fallen leaves. Lots and lots of fallen leaves. At the time critics called Boogeyman the perfect specimen of style over substance, but not all genre movies have to stir debate or compete for the greatest horror film of all time. Truthfully, Sam Raimi and his Ghost Pictures studio have cranked out a number of excellent films. One would be hard pressed to include any (except for possibly The Grudge) on any top ten lists of the best ever. Does that mean we can’t have fun and eat some popcorn in the meantime? Absolutely not. Barry Watson was perfectly cast in what was marketed as a PG-13 teen horror film which carried lasting appeal, enough to warrant two sequels.