THE BOOGEYMAN (spoilers)
I was lucky enough to get to see this new short film by a new, up and coming director by the name of Gerard Lough. Having only made two short films (Stolen Wings and The Scanner) before this, and having not seen either, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The Boogeyman is yet another take on the Stephen King story, the one where some nasty monster hides in the closet and kills sleeping children. How could a story that has been done before still be interesting, and at only 27 minutes long, how could it possibly build up enough atmosphere and tension to work? Lough pulls it off, with style and dedication to the story. And using only limited actors, the small running time allows you to really get to know our main character and his troubles with the Boogeyman apparently targeting his children.
The film opens with a truly inspired 2 minutes of credits, set to haunting music and using visuals that wouldn’t look out of place in a David Lynch movie. The eerie music sets the scene well, and often I have found with small budget films like this, the opening credits generally lead the way to a terrible film, with the credits being the best bit. Thankfully, Lough doesn’t follow this rule and has created a cheap, yet engaging film which drew my attention instantly. We join Andrew Billings, played very well and convincingly by Simon Fogerty, he has a thick Irish accent which strangely adds some authenticity to the film. He is sat in an office, having a good old chin wag with his Doctor. Dr Harper is an intense man, staring with bruising ferocity at his patient, shocked by what he is being told. Andrew’s children have all been killed by the Boogeyman and he feels the police won’t help, and a lawyer would just laugh, but he desperately needs to tell his story. Thankfully, we the viewer, along with his Doctor, are his audience. Fire away Andrew; please tell us what happened to get you in such a state. He is angry, bitter and he looks like a man who has been let down. He seems untrusting to everything, and raises his voice a number of times at the poor Doctor, at one point screaming “BOLLOCKS” at the thought that his children may have died from cot-death.
Andrew met and fell in love with Rita a long time ago, and the pair had 2 children. It would seem Andrew is not into all this over caring crap, and wants to toughen up his kids from day one. Screaming at night and literally scared to death, Andrew ignores their pleas and states that they must get over their fear of the dark. Andy and Dr Harper have this conversation in a normal looking Doctors office, lit strongly by natural light coming through the window. Whether this was intentional or not, it adds realism to the whole setting, the natural light makes the office less comfortable and more as it should be seen, as a Dr/patient scenario. Andy’s story is told in flashback, and it is here that Lough shows his true colours, and (hopefully) hints of good things to come given a proper budget. Shades of both Lynch and Argento can be seen in the flashbacks to what went on in the house and, most importantly, in the kid’s bedroom. An incredibly strong orange is used for the most part in the house with the lights on, but it’s a sinister orange and not a comfortable one. In the dark, strong blues and in a scene involving the bedside digital clock, all the primary colours, excluding yellow, are used to great effect and reminded me of how Argento used these in his classic Inferno. Although the budget is tight, it is clear Lough has the ideas and determination to add style to his substance. In another flashback, we see how Andy became terrified of the sea and the almost fluorescent yellow is blinding and powerful, and hints at a not so perfect childhood. All this colouring add in incredibly dreamlike effect to the story which both draws you in, and also detaches you (in a good way) as you are suddenly brought back to the natural light of the Doctors office.
Simon Fogerty’s performance as Andrew is believable and brave, never being embarrassed to lose it or break down. He explains whole heartedly and with a straight face, how the Boogeyman came into his son’s bedroom and killed him. He did the same to his daughter after she too was moved into the bedroom. When Andrew explains how he misheard the screams as “LIGHT LIGHT”, he looks devastated and its written all over his face that he blames himself. Lough is impressive with his camera work too, carefully placing the camera just behind Andrew’s shoulder so that we cannot see the full horror as he looks into the cot of his dead child. It teases as it moves around, but thankfully you never get to see what Andrew see’s, something that, considering the budget, may have looked tacky. Gentle music kicks in, and gentle camera movements and soft lighting to give Andrew’s chance of reflection some calmness, yet another example of style trickery that works for those brief moments.
We soon find out that Andrew had a third child, a son named Andrew Anthony Billings and Andrew believes his wife purposely got herself pregnant in order to keep him interested. Andrew explains how they used an I.U.D and a tiny segment of what can only be described as one of those videos you watch at school explains exactly what it is. More flashes of brilliance! Andrew believes Rita may have removed it to have another child, and at first he seems resentful, angry. As he talks more, turns out he cared more for his third child than he did for the previous two. A scene showing Andy shopping for a toy is a million miles away from the other dreamlike flashbacks. Caring so much leads Andrew to become obsessed in finding the Boogeyman, and he even lays traps. Rita leaves, and he seems to be on a downward spiral. The Boogeyman is eventually revealed and while in some scenes the latex outfit doesn’t exactly work, I’m pleased to see the old fashion style of horror used, rather than CGI which can and does go horrifically wrong in less experienced hands. Thankfully we don’t see too much of the Demon, but one scene in particular shines. The Boogeyman is there, in all his glory and Lough has used strobe lighting effects and black and white to create a true monster, and again, this reminded me heavily of previous efforts by Lynch, Cronenberg and even Clive Barker and his reveal of the Cenobites. It’s a brief moment; again, thankfully because I don’t think it would have worked had it been on screen any longer, but its effective in its less is more attitude.
I have pretty much gone over the whole plot here, so I won’t go any further into how the film pans out. What I will say is this, for a short horror film, this is a must. It doesn’t break any new grounds, and I have certainly seen a lot better than this, but you just have to admire Gerard Lough’s ideas and determination to make a pretty decent horror story a reality. There are moments are pure horror greatness here and Lough clearly knows his stuff. For only a third short film, with no actors, no special effects and barely a budget, Lough has made something quite brilliant and his name will definitely be one to watch in the future. I look forward to seeing what this man can do with a full length movie and some studio backing. Just a quick mention also to the awesome soundtrack: featuring a brilliant piece of music by Moby which fits this film perfectly.