Film Review – Constantine, Boogeyman, Monster Man

Crapping Oneself

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, March 2005)

“Dude, our record covers totally lied to us.” So said one Keanu Reeves in the splendid film Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, on going to hell. In Constantine, Keanu once again returns to hell only this time we’re supposed to take him seriously. This is something that is becoming increasingly hard to believe the more Reeves’ strange and preposterous career goes on.

Whereas some other action stars, such as Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger, have a least some steely-eyed charisma, Reeves seems to occupy a blank space at the centre of any film he’s in. A man of virtually no range or talent, Reeves has a habit of lucking himself into great films now and then: Speed or the Matrix for example. In fact he seems to get a lot of his roles simply because he’s younger than his increasingly aged action hero compatriots. He is also smart enough to avoid certain films, such as wisely passing on Speed 2, although in retrospect he may have been wise to pass on the dazzlingly awful Matrix sequels too.

But his greatest successes have often come despite his performances. You could hardly describe his presence as ‘towering’, especially when you’re too busy watching a bus that can’t slow down or Carrie Anne Moss running around the walls. So when a film comes along that rather depends on Reeves being the centre of things, then it tends to fall flat. After Constantine, he’s going to have to luck out once again.

An adaptation of the Hellblazer comic strips, Reeves plays central character John Constantine, a private eye who specialises in demonic matters, who has literally been to hell and back. Caught up in a battle between the forces of good (represented by Tilda Swinton’s angel Gabriel) and the forces of baaadddd (Peter Stormare’s Satan, looking like a Vegas lounge lizard for some reason), Reeves resembles a handsomely bland little boy looking completely out of place. He’s not helped by his co-star Rachel Weisz, who completely acts him off the screen (the clue was in the trailer, which featured more of her than him).

It being Easter, naturally we get lots of horror films. Constantine at least tries to be all supernatural and demonic, and is only really let down by its lead actor. In contrast Boogeyman is also supernatural and demonic but is merely let down by its script, direction, production and actors. Director Stephen Kay foisted the horrendous remake of Get Carter on us, so naturally he was perfect for this leaden and thoroughly unentertaining horror flick. In recent times we’ve had the Tooth Fairy (Darkness Falls) as a bad guy, so the same twisted Hollywood logic naturally gives us the monster-in-the-closet Bogeyman, although the American pronounciation suggests something starring Disco Stu.

Starring a cast of unknowns who will probably stay that way (plus Xena: Warrior Princess), Boogeyman features dialogue of the calibre of, “Everybody told me I was making it up. There’s no such thing as the Boogeyman. But I was right.” So you were making it up then? Anyway, the plot, such as it is, features a guy called Tim going back to his childhood home, the place where his dad died in mysterious circumstances. He knows it was the Boogeyman what done it, but everyone poo-poos such a ridiculous idea. The thing which ultimately made the X-Files as tedious as last month’s TV article was the stupifying regularity with which Mulder would give the most outlandish reason for anything and be ultimately proved right. Pace any horror film these days. Guys, the reason why Seven remains a modern classic was because there wasn’t anything supernatural going on. That’s how much of a breath of fresh air it was.

To complete this March Craparama of really bad films, let’s welcome Monster Man, a film of such unimaginative poorness that it rips off Road Kill from a few years ago, which itself was merely a rip off of Spielberg’s Duel. The Monster Man of the title is so-called because he drives one of those monster trucks much beloved of Homer Simpson, only he’s not crushing VW Beetles for the amusement of Middle America, he’s trying to crush two nauseating teenagers and the beautiful hitch-hiker they’ve picked up. Monster Man actually tries to be funny in places, but that’s no excuse. So in awe of its moronic demographics is this film that it tries to emulate a genre that nobody would admit to liking. And it’s title is even worse than Boogeyman. In short, this is shit, and that’s an insult to faecal matter.

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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