EVER since he was eight years old, Tim Jensen (Barry Watson) has been afraid of the dark.

In particular, he's petrified of closets - his psychiatrist must have a field day - having watched his father (Charles Mesure) fall victim to the bloodthirsty Boogeyman, who lurks in the darkness of every enclosed space.

Years of specialist care have failed to cure Tim of his crippling phobia - his father did not simply walk out on his mother (Lucy Lawless), as everyone claims; the Boogeyman got him. Now living in an open-plan apartment without any cupboards or wardrobes, Tim is just about surviving, helped by his beautiful girlfriend Jessica (Tory Mussett). When his mother passes away, Tim nervously returns to his hometown and the house of his childhood nightmares. His shrink suggests that he spend a night in the house, alone, to banish the ghosts of the past once and for all. Clearly, it's a foolish idea but Tim agrees and as he wanders the creaking corridors of the property, he is forced to confront a malevolent force from his past. His former sweetheart Kate (Emily Deschanel) and a runaway girl called Franny (Tory Bartusiak) become embroiled in the fight between good and evil, but even they may not be able to save Tim's soul from the dreaded Boogeyman.

Covering similar urban legend territory as the 2002 schlock-horror They, Boogeyman starts promisingly and sustains a modicum of dramatic tension by keeping the monster off screen for large swathes of the film. Unfortunately, once director Stephen T Kay relinquishes control to the special effects guys for the nonsensical finale, you'll be fleeing the darkness of the cinema in confusion and boredom rather than terror.

The three scriptwriters tread water with a superfluous subplot involving Tim spending the weekend with Jessica's well-to-do parents. It's a poor and clumsy excuse to shoehorn a nightmarish dream sequence into the narrative. And the climactic showdown descends into a blur of computer trickery and hocus-pocus about destroying the emblems of childhood.

The cameramen seem to spend a great deal of time in various cupboards, from the point of view of the Boogeyman, peeking at the actors as they traipse to their doom. A few more cheap shocks probably wouldn't have gone amiss. Watson affects a permanent look of clammy fear while his co-stars don't have enough screen time to register as anything other than two-dimensional archetypes.

Rating 5/10