AUGUST 12, 2012
I thought last week was Shark Week, hence Syfy's airing of the movie Shark Week, but it's actually THIS week where we celebrate our planet's oldest living murderers. So I assume someone at Syfy was fired for choosing to kick things off with a new movie called The Boogeyman (just Boogeyman on-screen; the "The" was probably added to differentiate from the Barry Watson movie that they air every other week), which is not only shark-free, but is one of maybe 3 Syfy Original Movies (or SOMs) I've seen all year that WASN'T shark related. Who the hell made this call? What's next week? Something about the Olympics being attacked by, er, sharks?
Anyway, The Boogeyman is actually pretty enjoyable for a SOM, mainly because it's so much unlike its brethren. No sharks or scientific mutations of any sort, no cutaways to random victims that are never mentioned again, and not a single Battlestar Galactica star! The guy from Warehouse 13 is the lead here, and he's pretty charming and down-to-earth, seen playing video games with his sons, macking on his hot partner, etc. It's the sort of role Bruce Campbell might have played back when he gave a shit, and even though I've never seen Warehouse 13 and thus had no attachment to the guy, I was legit fearful when it seemed like he might have been a goner during a couple points in the climax.
He's kind of a shitty cop though. When his chief gives him a report, he asks her like 10 questions, to which she basically replies "it says right there" over and over. His kids access a gun way too easily, and when he encounters an injured victim of the boogeyman hanging from a tree, he just shoots the rope and lets the kid fall headfirst to the ground without even trying to cushion the blow. Then again the whole force seems kind of incompetent; the chief gets one of her men killed when she fails to realize that the boogeyman has rigged up some makeshift guillotine to the button she keeps pounding on despite another guy in the room pleading with her not to touch it, and the other hero cop shoots the chief when trying to take it down. Who trained these people?
But it's a fun little tale of a bloodthirsty beast who gets loose after his brother/keeper dies of a heart attack, dicing up some townsfolk as the heroes try to figure out who is behind these murders (spoiler: The Boogeyman) and how to stop it. One of the heroes has a secret past connected to the thing, and there's all these Cain and Abel allusions that prove the screenwriter actually knows how to read, which isn't a given with SOMs. The hero's sons are named Jacob and Isaac, which also have biblical connotations, though Isaac was Jacob's father, not brother (Jacob's brother was Esau, which would be a weird name for a kid). Still, it gives it a bit of weight these things often lack, which I appreciated.
In fact, I spent some time wondering if this was meant to be a real movie at some point, with a budget and an actual US shooting location instead of Bulgaria or wherever it was (there were about 700 Vs in the opening credits alone, so it had to be some Eastern Europe locale). At times it felt like it was going to turn into The Boogeyman's Assault On Precinct 13, which would have been amazing, but they keep location jumping, which is a shame because most of the locations were blanketed with a very phony looking fog, presumably to mask a bunch of foreign language signs. Some of the establishing shots even look like they're entirely done with CGI, despite just being of things like houses.
But like I said, there's no random victim cutaways, which means it often goes to commercial on a non-exciting moment (you know, like a real movie would). There's a big massacre early on, but it occurs off-screen - there's only a handful of on camera deaths in the film, and they're all more or less motivated. More importantly, they're all part of the story. The few in the first half are investigated by the police, where clues to the back-story are discovered - as opposed to their usual MO which is to just cut to some nameless schmuck being killed by the monster and never mentioned again. So it actually gives you a real reason to pay attention as the story unfolds, whereas most of these things you can leave for half of it (or keep changing the channel back and forth) and not miss anything. Not that the story is complicated, but it IS a story, not a chain of kill scenes until the 90 minutes are up.
I just wish the ending was a bit better. It comes down to someone having to sacrifice their life (well, lifeSTYLE) and become the new keeper, and they try to make it seem like one of the sons will be chosen. But you know that's not going to happen, so when the person is chosen, it's kind of out of nowhere, as there was little buildup to it. Weirder, the person seems to relish their new role, which makes even less sense. An epilogue shows them on the road with the thing in the back of a motorhome, being sinister at a gas station and looking all badass - what exactly happened to make them seemingly turn evil? The brother character seemed like he took on a "local crazy old man" to ward off innocent people and saw his role as that of a man burdened by his duty to his own flesh and blood - but this new keeper almost seems like they're going to use Boogeyman for their own personal gain. And that's fine, but it should have been established if that's the case. Perhaps a sequel is en route - hell, the other Boogeyman movies have all gotten 2 or 3 followups.
Still, an above average flick for Syfy, with some surprising wit (love the "Gay Step-Grandpa" exchange, and there's even a decent poop joke) and likable characters backing an interesting but straightforward story. And it's another solid resume-builder for Jeffrey Lando, who was also behind the fun Goblin and decent survival thriller Thirst. Hurrah for competence! Rare around these parts.
What say you?