Never let it be said that Sam Raimi has forgotten his roots. After hitting the big time with the Spider-Man juggernaut, the horror whiz turned A-list director used his newfound clout to establish Ghost House Pictures, a specialty arm of the Sony Pictures empire devoted exclusively to churning out inexpensive fright flicks. The fledgling company scored a major success with their first release, The Grudge, which only cost $10 million and grossed ten times that. Since then, Ghost House has announced a full slate of movies including the inevitable Grudge 2, an adaptation of the cult comic book 30 Days of Night and, most bizarrely, a remake of Raimi's own horror classic The Evil Dead. Hopefully, those projects will be more satisfying than the company's current release Boogeyman, which was actually completed over a year ago but is just now hitting theatres to capitalize on the popularity of The Grudge. The ploy worked-Boogeyman grossed almost $20 million its opening weekend-but the film itself is a bland affair with none of the imagination that distinguishes the best horror movies.
Things get off to a promising start with an effective pre-title sequence; on a dark and stormy night, a young boy named Tim lies awake in his bed, trying to ignore the strange noises emitting from his closet. Eventually, his father comes into the room and throws open the closet door to prove that he's just hearing things. Big mistake. An unseen force grabs Dad and he disappears into the closet, never to return. Flash forward 15 years and Tim (Barry Watson) is now a grown man in his early 20s, but he still can't pass by a closet without shivering. Although he's been told that his father wasn't really killed by a monster-instead he abandoned the family-Tim knows in his gut that something terrible happened in that room. When his mother dies, he returns to his childhood home to learn once and for all whether there really is a boogeyman or if he's just going crazy.
The notion of a boy retreating into his mind as a way to deal with parental abandonment could serve as the premise for a great horror movie. Sadly, this is not that film. While director Stephen Kay occasionally teases us with the "Is Tim crazy or isn't he?" question, it's fairly obvious that we're being set up for a showdown with the titular creature. Like the rest of the movie, however, the climactic confrontation is rather pedestrian-Tim goes mano-a-mano against some ugly CGI and triumphs for reasons that don't really make sense. The whole film is also marred by the quick cutting and speeded-up camerawork that are unfortunately becoming the hallmarks of PG-13-rated horror movies. And that's really the most disappointing thing about Boogeyman-how ordinary it feels. If this is the kind of product we can expect from Ghost House, Raimi might be better off focusing his attention on Spider-Man 3.