Friday, January 18, 2008

Boogeyman 2 (2007)

For a straight-to-DVD sequel that most people don’t know is out and, if they did know was out, probably wouldn’t bother because the first Boogeyman was so god-awful, Boogeyman 2 is a nice surprise. It’s certainly not a perfect, I-just-peed-my-pants-it-was-so-awesome surprise, but it fares much better than its weak predecessor.

The film opens on a little girl named Laura (Sammi Hanratty), who is celebrating her birthday with her Mom, Dad and 11-year-old brother Henry (Jarrod Bailey). It’s a dark and stormy night, but the family is happy inside their dimly-lit home, opening presents and eating cake. Something isn’t quite, though, because Henry is petrified of going into the dark hallway, and Laura seems equally scared, even when their parents tell them to basically “grow up” and that the Boogeyman they fear doesn’t exist.

A little while later, little Laura and Henry witness a hooded figure kill both of their parents. They believe that the Boogeyman was responsible for their parent’s deaths, and as they grow up the fear of the Boogeyman stays with them.

Now ten years later, Henry (Matt Cohen) has been treated at a mental health facility for his phobia. He has just been released and now Laura (Danielle Savre) realizes that she too needs help. With Henry’s help, she checks herself into the same facility he was just released from. She joins a program to treat phobias led by Dr. Ryan (Renee O’Connor) and overseen by Dr. Allen (Tobin Bell). Among the other patients are a guy who fears the outside world, a girl who is afraid of losing control, a germaphobe, a girl who is scared of getting fat and another guy like Laura who fears the dark.

When patients start dying in ways that resemble their gravest fears, Laura suspects the Boogeyman is behind them. Her doctors are convinced she’s gone cuckoo, as the first few deaths look like tragic accidents. When the bodies start piling up, though, the survivors begin to suspect that something or someone is behind the grisly deaths. With night upon the isolated and desolate hospital, can Laura face her true fear of the Boogeyman?

Though this film is much better than the first one (which is only referenced once, and very quickly, by the way) it is still only slightly above average for a horror film. It starts off great with Laura and Henry as little kids suffering a very traumatic experience, but once the killings start it’s just one kill after another. I prefer my stories a little meatier with more substance, but if you are looking for a slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am barrage of killings, Boogeyman 2 will work for you.

I have to mention, though, that despite the rapid-fire succession of deaths, the film doesn’t have a lot of gore. Most deaths happen off-screen and some we don’t even see at all! However, there are quite a few nicely-done sprays of blood, many of which end up all over Danielle Savre’s face. One explosive scene that involves force-feeding really tickled my fancy.

The acting is also well-done by everyone involved. One small problem I had, though, was Tobin Bell as a doctor. Every time I see that guy I can’t help but think of SAW. His portrayal of the doctor was a little too close to Jigsaw for my liking. On the other hand, cute redhead Danielle Savre did a wonderful job playing the confused Laura. The rest of the cast did a very credible job as well, with no one giving a bad performance.

As for the story, there really wasn’t all that much to it. Its simplicity worked for the most part, but left me a little bored towards the middle and end where it just turned into one kill after the other. I did enjoy the ending, which revealed the Boogeyman to be someone I suspected the least. All of my guesses as to who the villain was were wrong…and I love when I’m wrong in a horror movie because that means I’m actually surprised! Kudos to scribe Brian Sieve!

Furthermore, director Jeff Betancourt did a wonderful job directing the film. I love the dim, shadowy conditions he created throughout the film. Flickering lights and dark stairwells haven’t looked so creepy in quite some time! I’ll admit, there were even scenes where the tension was so great that I had to bury my head in my hands and peek out from behind my hands.

There were a couple things that left me less than satisfied, though, especially dealing with continuity and believability. First of all, there were several scenes that lacked continuity. For one thing, characters would be drenched in blood in one scene, but the next shot would just be lightly dabbed with it, or, worst of all, squeaky clean! My next nit-pick was all about believability. The exterior shots of the hospital where Laura is staying make it look huge, with at least five to ten stories and multiple wings. It is not an old, decrepit, falling apart hospital either. Every night, there is a hospital “lockdown” for the safety of the patients, and when the killings start, it is found that the phone lines are dead and they have no way to communicate with the outside world (i.e. no way to call for help). This just seems like a pretty ludicrous situation to me…first of all, they may not be able to escape the hospital, but they could at least go to a different floor for help! They still have access to the basement after the lockdown ensues, so why couldn’t they use the same stairs that they took to the basement to get to another floor? Also, why wouldn’t there be a backup computer for the phone system? And why, in such a large hospital, would they not have a regular night staff to deal with such emergencies? In that case, why wouldn’t that size of hospital have a security team?

The more you think about such small quibbles, they more you’ll get annoyed. Still, despite these little complaints, the film was overall pretty entertaining. It may not have been an impressive horror film and probably won’t scare your pants off, but it is a very surprising film considering the source material of the first Boogeyman.

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