The Boogeyman (2010)

Don't even start with me on switching my coffee with Folger's Crystals

One of my New Year’s Resolutions, aside from the usual lose some weight, make a million dollars, or become a James Bond villain, is to clear off the backlog of movies that I intended to review last year or even the year before but never got done.   So let’s kick off the new year with an old fear – The Boogeyman.  Wait! Don’t go!  This isn’t The Boogeyman you’re probably remembering, the film from 2005, instead this is a short film from Ireland, based on a Stephen King short story.

Andrew Billings is scared and guilty.  He feels compelled to tell the story of the death of his three small children, each of whom died in succession at hands of “The Boogeyman.”  Andrew tells his psychiatrist that he doesn’t care if he is believed, he just wants to get what happened “off his chest.”  Andrew is not a very bright or likable guy.  He lets numerous facts about himself slip.  He admits to slapping his wife, he  worries that a child of his could “grow up to be a queer,” he nurses resentment at being “tied down” when Rita got pregnant, et cetera.  In the course of telling what’s happened, he gives away facts about himself, of which even he is probably unaware.  Andrew is a compelling character in spite of the fact that he’s a complete jerkwad.

We have the end of the movie at its beginning in that from the outset we know Andrew’s three children have died.  There is no surprise there.  The horror lies in understanding how it happened.  Andrew is the only person who knows for sure.

The Boogeyman is a short film, about 26 minutes long, made on a shoe string budget with a cast and crew small enough to fit together in a large booth at Denny’s.  It’s not shoddy and amateurish but it doesn’t have the look of a Hollywood film either.  The production values are slight and it shows a bit in the sound, lighting and sets.

Rather than visually showing what Andrew is relating in a series of flashbacks, moving back and forth from the psychiatrist’s office to the events of the past, The Boogeyman is Andrew narrating the entire story, the movie supporting the narration with impressionistic imagery, giving the film a dreamlike quality on the one hand and illustrating the emotional distance between Andrew and those around him, on the other.

Having  the movie as a sort of nightmare slide show with narration  is more like telling and less like showing the story.  Filmmaker Gerard Lough gets away with it for three reasons: It’s a short film.  If he’d tried  a feature length movie, it would have come off as fruity and boring, but it works okay here.   Lough, in his capacity as director, gets a really good performance from Simon Fogarty as Andrew, who despite looking a bit like Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, still draws us into the story.  Lastly, the dialogue is well written and interesting.  A filmmaker who can write good dialogue can do great things.  If you don’t believe me, just look at Pulp Fiction, a film mostly about mobsters driving around talking about hamburgers; it works because the dialogue is great.  Andrew is a complete character, rounded and real, who can hold our attention because we believe him.

I think that this iteration of The Boogeyman would have felt at home as an episode of Tales from the Darkside.  At less than thirty minutes, it’s too short to give it a rating on the Vincent scale, but I will say I enjoyed it enough to watch it three times.  I look forward to seeing what Gerard Lough does in the future.

Note: According to IMDB, Simon Fogarty is in the upcoming Portrait of a Zombie, a film that I’ve been wanting to see for a while now.  He’ll be playing a priest.  Just imagine taking confession from Father Booger!

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