A young man tries to deal with the childhood terror that has never stopped haunting him.A young man tries to deal with the childhood terror that has never stopped haunting him.A young man tries to deal with the childhood terror that has never stopped haunting him.
Its the kind of movie that LOOKS like something we'd be interested in. The trailer showed a pretty creepy scene: a slow walk to a front door of a Gothic-style Victorian farmhouse, a scary hand on the door. The stuff of childhood nightmares and imaginings.
Additionally, the movie had a lot going for it -- a spooky-as-hell soundtrack, a seriously creepy Gothic farmhouse which even old-house fanatics might shudder at being alone in at night. Small-town stagnation and isolation. Unhelpful country people who just don't like outsiders. The stuff of moody, haunting atmospheres.
But, rather than play on a slow, spooky, dreamlike ambiance the house, the terrors, the memories of the lost dad and his murder/abduction, we get a woosh of distracting angles and wild camera swoops and flashes of light that are neither realistic nor scary.
The eerie soundtrack is constantly interrupted by flashes of light and noise that are supposed to 'scare' but show nothing and only interrupt the brooding atmosphere.
And what is the Boogeyman in this movie, anyway? Balled lightning? An explosion of distorted, computer-animated birds? a malfunctioning transmitted cartoon image of the grim reaper? Hard to tell. Bad computer animation spoils the image. We can't even imagine.
We certainly do NOT see any Boogeyman. Not the guy with the creepy hand on the door in the trailer. If we see anything at all, it's like video game graphics distorted by a glitch in the imagery.
C'mon, producers -- GIVE US THE BOOGEYMAN. Not videogenic mess.The Boogeyman must be a CHARACTER we can see -- preferably something that talks or has some other habit that frightens us. Freddy Krueger, Jeepers Creepers, the Tall Man on Phantasm, Reverend Henry Kane on Poltergeist or the chauffeur on Burnt Offerings who is too thin and tall and has a freaky, inappropriate grin and piercing stare -- are Boogeymen. (Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface are perhaps another type of boogyman, but their agenda is less frightening because they exist merely to kill)
Rather than being killed or abducted by the boogeyman which we see in the trailer,we instead see people being bounced around the walls of rooms and hallways like rubber balls. Just one impact at this overdone velocity would kill a person instantly, but here, we see people bounce around the walls and get back up, unharmed, to 'fight.' and see victims instantly wrapped in saran rap, etc. On and on it goes.
Directors, producers, please take note. It just doesn't work. Things that move faster than the eye can see are not scary. Cheap computer graphic effects don't work. Loud, startling noises are a cheap substitute for brooding horror or shocking terror, and don't work.
The true 'Boogeyman' archetype that really scares the crap out of us is a slow, menacing presence. We may only get glimpses of him or he may torment us from the closet or under the bed as in Poltergiest, or he may come a'calling like a traveling salesman or road menace. True Boogeymen must be seen in closets, we see him in the mirror on closet doors, we see him hanging like a scarecrow or hanging from a noose like a kite caught in a tree. They come uninvited to take what they want; they can appear out of nowhere and can seem to disappear just as fast; they usually have personalities and voices that creep us out no matter how many years pass; they are invincible, and they like for you to learn of their invincibility as you try to fight them off. They love to torment and terrorize their victims before killing/abducting/soul eating/dragging them off to hell or whatever they do.
True boogeymen may have some weaknesses. In better horror movies and nightmares, they can sometimes temporarily be resisted or staved off by certain psychological or spiritual disciplines, or religious rituals but they cannot really be destroyed. At best, they may leave us to find an easier target, but they usually get what they want.
I was not impressed at all with this movie; I'm even more disgusted by the fact that they had a lot of good actors/sets/technologies to work with.
For instance, the character of Franny Roberts (Skye McCole Bartusiak), a mysterious, attractive, but oddly troubled twelvish-year-old girl who seems to know what's going on, was by far a more interesting character in this film than the 'Boogeyman.' In fact, she was the most interesting character in the movie: weirdly sad, melancholy, yet somewhat a tomboy -- like a lost childhood friend we forgot about and kinda miss. Why wasn't she given a bigger role?
And the protagonist Tim (Barry Watson) did a pretty convincing act of being legitimately scared and haunted by a childhood memory. They (Tim and the little girl, Franny) should have been the ones, together, to thwart or vanquish the "boogeyman.' Not the guy and the ex-crush 'Kate.'
Remember, the boogeyman should be a menacing presence; a collector of souls, a tormentor who plays games with his victims before taking them away. Boogeymen may have vulnerabilities, but cannot really be destroyed. Please, no more computer-animated lightning explosions and MTV to represent the boogeyman.
Most of all, the Boogeyman needs to be a character, and not just be bad graphics a-flashing. The boogeyman needs a voice and creepy antics. He is an abductor of souls, the tormentor of children, he is somewhat invincible but can be driven away, and always takes his helpless victims to a fate worse than hell.
- Mar 15, 2006