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(2005) * 1/2 Pg-13
86 min. Columbia Pictures. Director: Stephen T. Kay. Cast: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Tory Mussett, Andrew Glover.

The intensely stupid Boogeyman opens with a visually witty sequence of a boy facing the demon that lives in the shadows of his bedroom. This could be any child, to a point, so the sequence carries a kinetic charge and a winking recognition for the audience, many of whom giggle and jump on cue. But once the credits announce Boogeyman, the movie becomes a slow-leaking tire which goes flat before we reach a destination.

Barry Watson (TV's 7th Heaven) plays Tim Jensen 15 years after the loss of his father. According to Tim's child psychologist, his experience of the Boogeyman was merely a child's compensation for emotional trauma: never happened, nothing to fear, darn that deadbeat dad. We know better, of course; the poor sap was sucked into the netherworld by the Boogeyman, and anyone who gets near Tim—girlfriend Jessica (Tory Mussett), old friend Kate (Emily Deschanel), uncle Mike (Philip Gordon), and little orphan Franny (Skye McCole Bartusiak)—is asking for it. On the advice of his shrink, Tim returns to his oddly remote childhood home to face his deep-seated fears.

Screenwriters Eric Kripke and Juliet Snowden & Stiles White string together garden-variety frights surrounding the dreaded closed doors and dark corners. Some genuinely unsettling moments are overshadowed, so to speak, by the film's disjointed narrative, tricked out with editing tactics (like the ol' piercing sound effect). In fact, the plot's most important moments are edited too spastically to be of any use. It's Watson's show, and he anchors it soundly, but the spartan simplicity of the story doesn't do him, or us, any favors. Boogeyman—produced in part by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead)—borders on comedy. Had it just hopped the fence, this throughly insensible movie would be a much better time.

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