Story: Laura (Danielle Savre) has a lot of childhood trauma, to say the least, as she witnessed the rest of her family get murdered when she was just a kid. Her memories of this event are somewhat buried, but she was convinced the killings were done by an evil spirit, not a maniacal killer. She remains terrified of the Boogeyman and closets in specific, though as an adult she is trying to move on from her past. To that end, she checks herself into a specialized mental health unit, one designed to help people overcome their phobias. Laura wants to get over her fear of closets, but the unit has a wide scope of phobia sufferers, all of whom can relate to Laura’s plight on some level. When she reveals her fears of the Boogeyman, the others laugh her off, but when strange things start happen on the unit, will those fears be realized?
Entertainment Value: I wasn’t a fan of the first movie in this franchise, but I have to admit, this sequel manages to surpass the original in every respect. The narrative is a considerable step up, taking us to an interesting setting and giving some Nightmare on Elm Street vibes, with all the folks cooped up on the mental health floor. The story makes sense and is interesting throughout, while we also have characters that are a vast improvement as well. The pace is tightened up, which means there aren’t the kind of drawn out, dull stretches found in the previous installment. The ante is upped on the horror elements to be sure, with good atmosphere, solid tension, and a much higher gore quotient this time around. I found some of the death scenes to be creative and well executed, while also well spaced, to keep the pace between kills short. This movie even offers up some light sleaze, including a scene where some shower romance is juxtaposed with one such creative death. I wouldn’t call this a genre classic, but it is a solid watch and a huge improvement over the original.
One of the movie’s strengths is the cast, as there is quite a colorful, talented ensemble put together here. I think horror fans will enjoy seeing Tobin Bell is present, playing the therapist that oversees the unit. He still comes off as creepy throughout, using his weird Jigsaw voice and having a general menace to his presence. But I think that adds entertainment, since it puts a kind of dark humor in a lot of his scenes. I also assume that his involvement has reeled in numerous horror fans, so he makes a wise casting choice, I think. Mae Whitman is memorable in Boogeyman 2 as well, as she not only turns in a solid performance, but she runs with the material and makes it work so well. I appreciated her enthusiasm and she didn’t shy away from the horror elements, so she is a standout here for sure. The cast also includes Danielle Savre, Johnny Simmons, Renee O’Connor, Matt Cohen, and Lesli Margherita.
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