Sunday, November 06, 2005

Too Scared To Think.

2005, USA
Stephen T. Kay

Have you ever been really, truly scared? Absolutely horrified? The kind of scared that makes you huddle into the fetal position, lose control of your bowels, and babble incoherently like an Asian kid on his cell-phone in a video arcade? I’d like you, kind reader, to imagine that moment of complete and utter terror, that sensation of abject horror, that incapacitating sense of impending dread, preferably without soiling yourself. Now imagine the exact opposite of that. Then, hold that thought for about 60 minutes, then fall asleep, and you no longer have to watch Boogeyman. This film is like being in the womb. It’s like lying under a blanket and watching the flames change color in a fireplace while sipping hot chocolate. It’s like an episode of The Gilmore Girls to overworked female university students and gay hairstylists. This film is so incompetently conceived, it’s going to be difficult to describe it. Though edited like a seizure, the film is boring, overlong even at 88 minutes, and vague to the point of abstraction, like listening to a hyperactive boyscout tell a ghost story around a campfire, only his Ritalin kicks in a good forty minutes before the climax and he forgets how it's supposed to end. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be scared of in this movie. I’m assuming we’re meant to fear the titular Boogeyman, but it would help if he appeared every once in a while. I understand that the fear of the unseen exists on a primal level in society’s subconscious, but if the fear stays unseen for too long, I’m going to stop looking for it. It appears that Boogeyman might be trying to make a point about overcoming childhood fears, but since they neglect to specify any sort of tangible threat to anything or anyone in the film, it ends up being a film about fearing fear, which sounds like a really bad indie-rock lyric written as a comment about post-9/11 American society.

The horror. The horror.

Boogeyman opens in the past, where a young boy, scared of the dark, asks his father to come up to his room to check for monsters. The father finds one, then disappears screaming into the closet, never to be seen again. Cut to twenty years later, and the child has grown up into the kid with the girl’s hair from 7th Heaven. For about forty minutes, he continues to be scared of the dark, then decides that he should go spend the night in the house where his father died. It’s a testament to absurdity that the writers of this film don’t even bother to provided a reason for him to do this. And I’m not talking about a believable reason, I mean any reason whatsoever. I’d have settled for a bet, a dare, a provision in a rich dead uncle’s will, anything other than ‘just because’. The whole movie is like that; a series of a simple questions of logic and continuity answered by the cinematic equivalent of a shrugged set of shoulders from a surly fifteen year old kid coming home from band practice stoned. About every twenty minutes, the Boogeyman shows up, to remind us that we’re watching a film, not a high budget but particularly uneventful episode of Discovery Channel’s Ghost Detectives. What exactly the Boogeyman is, however, other than a bad computer model who kills people by throwing them against stuff like he’s an avatar from a professional wrestling video game, I don’t know, and I don’t care. There’s a fine line between maintaining a sense of mystery and confusing your audience, and where The Blair Witch Project stood firmly on that line, Boogeyman apparently isn’t aware of its existence. It’s like director Stephen T. Kay and his team of idiot writers skipped that day of class at USC to attend a lecture on loud noises and their ability to distract from plot holes.

Kay apparently did not miss the class on stupid camera angles.

As a life-long horror fan, I’d like to point out that I don’t necessarily believe that horror films need to be cerebral to succeed. There are two types of horror films: movies that access a deep, subconscious cultural fear or taboo, like Night of the Living Dead or Videodrome, and films that provide a visceral impact that shocks the body instead of the mind. The former is the type of film that you watch when you’re looking to think about something instead of recoil from it, and the latter group consists of the movies you watch when you’re pissed off at your girlfriend and just want to see a naked girl get her eye pushed into a wood splinter by a 16th century zombie conquistador. There are films that hit you in the head, and films that hit you in the stomach, but Boogeyman just punches you in the arm until you turn it off. And there’s nothing that would scare me more, as a filmmaker, than pioneering the Charlie horse school of horror.


Blogger Sam Kahn said...

I wouldn't have expected much from this movie. After all, the guy who made it also made the terrible Get Carter Stallone remake.

3:12 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

The one with Mickey Rourke in a fur dress? Good stuff.

8:40 a.m.  
Anonymous Rin said...

Ash, have you seen Primer yet? I'd like your thoughts on the matter. Since I really really like it but everyone else tells me it's pretentious rubbish like Pi. Which I also like.

Also, what's this I hear about you liking Sin City? I expected more from you.

See you!

7:40 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I didn't like Sin City, I just gave it a less than scathing review, for some reason.

I like Pi very much, it's just that I'm sick of talking about it with film school assholes. Primer I liked as well, though not as much. I thought it was an interesting idea, and an even more interesting approach, and it didn't insult the intelligence of the audience. In fact it did the opposite, and was needlessly over-complicated. Still, it's worth watching, and it's definitely better than most of the crap reviewed on this website.

8:45 p.m.  
Anonymous Je Suis said...

I thought Primer was intense and boring, like hard work. But, man, when that whole father-in-law thing came out of nowhere - what was up with the decomposingness? - well, that creeped me out worse than anything else I saw that month. And I'm including those A&W commercials.

1:23 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Yeah, it's definitely unsettling, and it gets better and better each time you see it. But while I'm all for movies that require mutliple viewings that reveal extra layers of meaning and character, I don't think you should need to watch a movie more than once to understand what the Christ is going on.

11:03 a.m.  

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