We’re testing out a new column here at Bloody-Disgusting and our beloved writer Brian Juergens will be doing a bi-weekly story entitled The Premature Burial, which is a review for an upcoming film based on only the images. He reviews it based on what he thinks is going to happen in the film. This weeks review is for Sony Screen Gems’ Boogeyman and is called “Horror Films Don’t Stand a Chance. Not One. Literally.” Read on and check it…
Tim (Barry Watson) is a man with a problem — a problem that threatens to tear him apart. It seems that Tim, a professional caregiver, has met his match in Jessica, a spunky pint-sized hellfire who seems bent on making his life a living nightmare. With Tim and Jessica trapped in a crappy old house together, the stage is set for a battle of wills unlike any the world has seen before. In this competent yet odd thriller from Sam Raimi’s Ghost House pictures, director Stephen Kay (“The Last Time I Committed Suicide”, “Static”) explores a horror that has been familiar to the genre since the classic “Halloween”: the horror of babysitting.
When Tim arrives at the Jensen house, things seem perfectly normal. All the trees in the yard are dead, and the joint looks like a forgotten soundstage from “The Haunted Mansion”. When he meets Jessica in the yard, she seems cool enough: she’s wearing grungy clothes for a 10-year-old and has her own mood light, but otherwise seems an okay kid. “Hey — you’re Dakota Fanning, right? I loved you in ‘Uptown Girls’.” Jessica stares at him, unamused. But when they move into the house and the mood light follows, he begins to suspect that things are not all what they seem…
Tim and Jessica go inside, and Tim decides to surf the internet for pictures of Tara Reid in a wet halter-top — oddly, Jessica doesn’t seem too happy about this. As Tim sits and Googles, Jessica stands behind him, humming “Baby Bumblebee” in his ear and throwing a glare on the monitor with her damned amber glow. Finally Tim becomes frustrated and gives up, and offers to take Jessica to play miniature golf.
Tim and Jessica get to the putt-putt course and all seems well. In fact, the weather there is much nicer than back on the soundstage, so there are no complaints. Under the blue sky, they hit the colored balls through the bowling pins, the Dutch windmill, and through the giant pinball-machine-thingie. But their bliss is short-lived, as Tim hits his ball into a giant Astroturf chasm in the Tiki Tiki Volcano Challenge (hole 16). Not wanting to ruffle his nice Men’s Warehouse trenchcoat, he decides to try to get Jessica to climb into the hole for him. A sample of the dialogue:
“Come on, climb into the hole”.
“I’ll let you watch TV”
“We don’t have a TV”
“Then I’ll let you eat all the ice cream you want”
“I’m lactose intolerant”
Tim thinks hard.
“Then I’ll think about not telling your parents about the pass you made at me”
“I didn’t make a pass at you…”
“That’s your word against mine, kid.”
“You’re going to die”.
At this, Tim just shoves Jessica into the hole and waits for her to retrieve his golf ball. When she climbs back up, her mood light is gone, and she has hell in her eyes. This is war. While I’m not generally a fan of movies that pit scruffy little urchins against well-paid television stars, in this case I think the kid might stand a fighting chance, so I’m game.
Jessica runs home ahead of Tim, who lags behind talking on his cell phone to his agent, whom he berates for getting him cast in “Riding the Bullet” without an escape clause. After all, he was in Seventh Heaven — and while Jessica Biel is getting cast in kickass stuff like the Texas Chainsaw remake and a Blade movie, he is stuck babysitting! Someone is gonna pay.
When Tim finishes yelling at his agent and steps into the house, he is floored at what he sees. It seems as though Jessica has gone and hired graffiti-artist-turned-No Doubt-record-cover-inspirer Stephen Sprouse to trash the joint! Considering he just passed away last March, I think it’s a nice tribute on the part of the filmmakers to feature his work here, although if they’re not careful, viewers might start thinking that this domestic drama about babysitting is some kind of “supernatural thriller” with deceased artists painting living rooms and all such nonsense…
Tim is floored — not since “Don’t Tell Mom, the Babysitter’s Dead” has he seen a house fall into such disarray when the parents were gone. He wonders briefly if he still has Christina Applegate’s number in his cell phone… he needs to stage a huge fashion show in the backyard, and fast!
Tim rushes into the kitchen looking for Jessica, and finds that the little brat has also set his brand-new copy of the DaVinci Code on fire in the kitchen sink! Now the dishes are ruined, the room stinks, and he has nothing to read on his bus ride home. At this point, I start to lose interest — can’t he just set the place on fire or something? The house is a mess — the parents would probably kill for the insurance money.
Tim runs through the house in a total hissy fit, trying to find Jessica and something else to read. “Where are you?!” he roars. He whizzes past the dining room, the parlor, the graffiti-ed living room, and comes upon a closed door. Tim approaches the door slowly, sweating with anticipation at what might lie behind.. and is thrown to the floor upon touching the knob. Tim rolls over on his side, his hip smarting from where he smacked down on the hardwood in a perfectly arranged pool of light. His eyes move to the door he shudders at what he sees…
Well, I don’t want to give anything away. But let me tell ya — it sure isn’t pretty! While Boogeyman (a remake of Ulli Lommel’s classic psychological horror flick) offers an interesting stalemate between an idealistic young star and a precocious child actor set against the backdrop of a dilapidated house, it never achieves any real scares or surprises, unless you have a phobia of burning sinks. For scary kids in old houses, I’d recommend “The Haunting of Julia” instead.