The Boogey Man (1980)

Every movie needs a shot like this.

Every movie needs a shot like this.

The first time I watched The Boogey Man, I’d never heard of its director, Ulli Lommel. A few years later I watched Strangers in Paradise and thought it was stupidly amazing. I wanted more Ulli Lommel, so I decided to revisit The Boogey Man.

Unfortunately, the two are nothing alike, except maybe that they’re both batshit crazy weird. That worked for Strangers in Paradise, which I think benefits from being a whacked-out mess. The Boogey Man, on the other hand, is just a terribly ill-conceived horror film that only succeeds at confusing its audience.

After having seen the movie twice, I still can’t really tell you what it’s about, but I’m going to try anyway.

Lacey's husband's idea of therapy: broken mirrors!

Lacey’s husband’s idea of therapy: broken mirrors!

Lacey and Jake suffer abuse at the hands of their drunken mother and her drunken boyfriend. Lacey gets the biggest knife she can from the kitchen to cut the rope with which her brother’s been tied to the bedpost. Then Jake takes the knife and murders the hell out of that boyfriend. Then he never talks again. Then years later mirrors break and an evil is unleashed and people start dying again. Lacey’s asshole husband doesn’t care that she’s emotionally disturbed and makes her keep a broken mirror in the kitchen, especially after Jake decides to paint all the other mirrors black.

It’s not really until looking at the description of this film that I realize the point of the mirror thing: Lacey apparently witnessed the murder through the mirror’s reflection and when the evil boyfriend died his

Not only is Jake a mute, he's also really into choking people.

Not only is Jake a mute, he’s also really into choking people.

spirit was caught in a mirror. So clearly that means mirrors everywhere harbor his evil spirit?

Yeah, dudes, I don’t know about this one. It’s confusing, arduous to get through and has little payoff. I spent most of its 82 minutes scratching my head, trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I will say that some of the shots are strangely amusing, like the knife bobbing up and down in the hallway, or the young boy whose head gets caught in a slammed window, but these oddly-shot moments don’t add up to a worthwhile movie. Still, something in me doesn’t want to give up on Lommel yet. I don’t want to believe that Strangers in Paradise was an anomaly. I want to believe instead that this is the anomaly. I’m almost certainly going to be disappointed…


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