There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Up until its final reel, Boogeyman is saturated with the kind of grim, autumnal atmosphere so lacking in recent PG-13 boondoggles. The setup is nothing special: 20-something, blue-state magazine worker Tim Jensen (7th Heaven’s Barry Watson) is convinced that, as a young boy, he witnessed the titular monster beating his father to a pulp—and that said ghoul is out to get his ass, too. The presentation, however, is executed with style and nuance that surpass the B-movie norm. When Tim’s estranged and not-altogether-sane mother passes away, the protagonist ventures out from his sleek, urban environs to an anonymous heartland hometown, a place where everything is either dead or dying. Daylight scenes appear to have been filmed at dusk near the end of October, and nighttime settings are suffused with fog and unnatural light. Director Stephen T. Kay (who’s helmed a couple of TV movies) and cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (who’s worked on real films such as Arlington Road and Saved!) present character movement as all arty, anxiety-inducing angles. And they break Boogeyman’s plethora of door-related activities down into a series of near-microscopic details—knobs turning, hinge paint cracking, a key opening a lock. Even the script, which lists too many writers to be coherent, is ambitiously Lynchian in its treatment of time and space. The narrative is straightforward enough until Tim, on his psychiatrist’s recommendation, decides to spend the night in the beat-down Victorian house where his pops allegedly died. (“Something happened in that house, but it wasn’t supernatural,” the doctor says, convinced that the patriarch skipped town.) Come nightfall, though, the hamlet gets loopy—literally: Closets swallow Tim and high-school pal Kate (Emily Deschanel) and spit them up across town. A spectral victim of the monster emerges from Tim’s half-remembered past, offering him decades-old clues. And, in an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind–like sequence of events that’s never entirely resolved, Tim’s tony girlfriend (Tory Mussett) appears and disappears repeatedly—either Boogeyized or a figment of his overactive imagination. The film’s unanswered questions, however, are less problematic than its wimpy payoff. Boogeyman’s sloppy, CGI-abusing finale, which stinks like the rotten fruit of a test-screening, not only explains nothing, but also drops exactly what made the rest of the movie so appealing: its relentless nonconformity.—Brent Burton