on February 04, 2005 by Christine James
The trailer looked thrillingly creepy until the title popped up. "Boogeyman," intoned the announcer ominously at the last possible second, respectably keeping a lid on what must have been his dripping contempt. How can anyone be scared of anything with such a dorky name? Especially since most people pronounce it "boogie- man," evoking a preternatural, homicidal Disco Stu. Not that that doesn't present horrors of its own. It's all the more to this film's credit, then, that it's able to sustain suspense and chills for most of its running time when its central ghoul is saddled with the Poindexter of demonic monikers.

Director Stephen Kay brings an unexpectedly stylish flair to what otherwise would have been routine stuff. When 23-year-old Tim (Barry Watson) revisits his childhood home for the first time since the life-altering trauma of witnessing the Boogeyman violently attack and disappear into another dimension with his father, he tentatively slides the key in the door, and the shot zooms in to the interior of the lock as each pin is disengaged. Once inside, every tiny sound sets Tim on edge, and the camera swoops to every dusty corner of the house to investigate the source of each disturbance. Though Tim hopes he'll prove once and for all that he imagined the Boogeyman, his nemesis soon makes itself known by the trail of the dead.

Some fascinatingly original twists that play with time and space keep the tension ratcheting up till the ending, which is a roiling showdown to which Watson brings a convincing blend of fear and defiance. But the scene seems like it should be the fallacious "phew, it's all over" that precedes the final terrifying high-stakes confrontation. Disappointingly, the film abruptly ends with what seems like a too-easy resolution--though a post-credits stinger indicates otherwise. Starring Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak and Tory Mussett. Directed by Stephen Kay. Written by Eric Kripke, Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. Produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. A Screen Gems release. Horror/Thriller. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of horror and terror/violence, and some partial nudity. Running time: 89 min

Tags: youth, haunting, ghost, nightmare, psychological, story, Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Tory Mussett, Stephen Kay, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, horror

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