The Boogeyman – Film Review

From the mind if Stephen King comes a story of the one monster the child inside all of us is afraid of, The Boogeyman.

It has been just over a month since therapist Will Harper (Chris Messina) lost his wife in a fatal car crash. Still shaken from the loss his youngest daughter, Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) sleeps with a variety of night lights on to fend off the dark. However, it is eldest daughter Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) who is suffering most outwardly. Feeling completely lost without her mother and with an emotionally distant father, she struggles to regain her place in the world.

With both daughters back on their first day of school since the tragedy, Will has an unexpected home visitor. A man with sad eyes named Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian) who is desperate to tell somebody about his own tragic story. Billings has lost all three of his young children back-to-back in a short period of time. His children were, and now Lester is, convinced they were being preyed upon by The Boogeyman itself.

When Lester “vacates” the Harper household, it seems he has inadvertently left something behind. An entity which will haunt Sawyer, Sadie and Will, feeding on their suffering. But surely there isn’t actually something spooky hiding in the dark or under the bed or in the closet. The Boogeyman isn’t real right?

Directed by up-and-coming horror filmmaker Rob Savage, this is a film with quite a few writers behind it. While based loosely on a Stephen King short story, I think it much closer reflects the work of its screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. Primarily with their successful A Quiet Place franchise, this film shares much of the same DNA in scares, atmosphere and even its design of the titular monster.

Much of The Boogeyman explores the grief, confusion, and fear of losing a loved one. I’m especially impressed by the film’s portrayal of a family in later stages of this loss. We never see much of Will’s wife but her absence in the Harper household is consistently felt. Although, this is largely only shown from Sadie’s perspective.

Will is having trouble dealing with things which causes him to be distant from his kids when they need him most. Unfortunately, this also means he’s absent for most of the film itself. Sawyer has her share of frightening scenes but it is Sadie who quickly becomes the movie’s true protagonist. Juggling not only her anguish but also taking matters into her own hands when things start getting really scary.

And things do get especially creepy, kooky, and altogether spooky with this film’s many suspenseful scenes dialling the tension up. I would say there were more giggles of apprehension in my cinema than actual legitimate scares in the film. However, that is what makes The Boogeyman so entertaining to watch with a crowd, it knows the effect it is having on the audience and builds on it.

The story of The Boogeyman is unfortunately fairly lacklustre with little done to build upon its basic premise. The jump scares begin to ramp up as the film goes on but largely, they come from the same place. An aspect I wish was kept from the short story was a father attempting to instil some tough love in his kids sleeping habits, only for him to become a blundering mess afraid of the dark himself by the end.

Sometimes predictability is totally fine when you’re talking about watching a monster movie. The Boogeyman never really builds upon its short story origin, in some ways it even omits content. But as a spooky creature-feature, this film maintains its audience engagement and makes for a satisfyingly entertaining film to watch with a crowd.

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