RUNNING TIME: 23 mins
Andy has been accused of killing his three children. Realising that the police won’t believe him, he decides to tell the truth to his doctor. He claims a creature called the Boogeyman killed his kids. Though understandably not too convinced by what he hears, and probably hoping that Andy will reveal himself as he tells his tale, Dr. Harper starts to listen as Andy relates his terrible tale….
I’ve noticed that Dj Vivace has also reviewed Gerald Lough’s short film, and I decided not to read his review, which I have no doubt is of his usual very high standard, until I’d done mine. Hopefully the two reviews will be a bit different. Now I have not read Stephen King’s short story The Boogeyman [to be honest, although his tales often provide great material for films, I’m not really much of a fan of King as a writer], but I would imagine Lough’s film follows it quite closely. Of course it’s inspired a few other films, including the fairly recent and quite poor Boogeyman, but itself seems to derive from the old American legend of a monster who lives in a closet and kills children. This has provided really furtile ground for horror filmmakers and in my opinion has really been a grounding for many classic horror movies, from Halloween to Candyman. I haven’t had the privilege of viewing Lough’s previous short films, The Scanner and The Stolen Wings, but The Boogeyman is also pretty impressive.
Right from the beginning, with trippy visuals and eerie music which reminded me of bits of the score to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind [but with a subdued techno beat!], I was hooked. The first few minutes ground proceedings, as we witness a kind of therapy session, in a convincing reality, with realistic dialogue, and a ‘hero’ who very quickly is a fully rounded character with good and bad points. “Imagine waking up one morning and finding out your son is a queer”?!, he says at one point, and he seems to have certain views about women and their ‘place’, yet he remains eminently sympathetic and we feel his plight. Then most of the rest of the film is Andy’s flashbacks, and there’s a real sense of dread as things just get worse and worse for him, while his narration, thick with Irish accent, adds an offbeat element of film noir. The story is also told with great skill and indeed subtlety. The Boogeyman is only glimpsed a few times, and it’s obviously a uy in a mask , but I rather enjoyed a change from CGI and there’s one brief reveal of him, in strobe lighting, that reminded me of the first appearance of Pinhead and company in Hellraiser, though I think Lough missed a beat in not having this as the first appearance of his monster [it was the third or fourth]. We don’t see the children getting killed and don’t even see their bodies, just Andy’s reactions, but it’s quite powerful this way and adds to the ambiguity of Andy’s tale [you know, he could be making this up and/or going insane, a tried and tested element of many great horror and thriller tales!].
Lough avoids things like sudden jumps and cheap scares and seems to deliberately subvert his audience’s expectations. There’s one bit where you see Andy setting up CCTV and I thought, “here comes some Paranormal Activity-type stuff” but, apart from the pictures suddenly going all wavy, it doesn’t happen. I personally would have appreciated some more traditional horror-type scares, but kudos to Lough for having the guts to hold back. What most impressed me, though, was the lighting. While the interview segments are in natural light, cameraman Greg Rouladh seems to use different filters [or some other method of altering the colour palette] for the rest of the films. The night time house scenes are heavily blue orientated, the day scenes are orangey, and every now and again other colours briefly dominate, such as a bright, deliberately sickly, yellow for a short beach flashback. I was immediately reminded of Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Inferno and if you know me that’s very high praise indeed. There’s also some great camerawork, with the odd Brian De Palma-like zoom into/away from something important, such as a socket, and very clever use of framing for Andy and whatever he sees/is doing. Honestly, the technical skill is very good indeed.
Simon Fogarty does a great, nicely ambiguous job as Andy, but I was also impressed with Micheal Parle as Dr. Harper; you know he doesn’t believe Andy yet never explicitly says so. I didn’t think Cian Furlong’s music was all that effective, apart from certain bits and pieces, as good as it was, and I thought the days of hearing Moby tracks everywhere were gone [nothing against his music, but I was so sick of hearing it all over the place!]. The Boogeyman is not especially original, and doesn’t break any new ground, but it refreshingly stops short of referencing other films. It’s obvious Lough clearly has talent to burn, and clearly loves the genre, and I’ll certainly like to see him make a feature. Maybe a feature length version of The Boogeyman?….