To no one’s surprise the success of It a few years back has sparked a run for adaptable Stephen King material to rival the 80s. The Boogeyman, directed by Rob Savage, is the latest and is based on one of King’s earliest short stories which was featured in a March 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine & later in Night Shift, a collection of his early short stories. Honestly, I find it odd King’s name is so attached to this. Yes, he wrote a short story about the boogeyman with these characters, but he certainly didn’t invent the idea of the bedroom monster. Since this is an adaptation of a short story there’s ALOT of empty space for Savage and writers Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, and Mark Heyman to fill.
The story follows Will Harper (Chris Messina) and his daughters, Sadie (Sophie Thatcher), and Sawyer (Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s wonderful Vivien Lyra Blair) who are in a world of hurt and trying to find their new normal after the sudden death of their wife/mother. Side note, why are the families in these movies always in the midst of a world shattering trauma right before being assaulted by some hellish threat? I get it, trauma breeds trauma, but just once I want to see a REALLY happy, rich, well-off family just be demolished by a demon. Rant over. Will, who works as a therapist our of his home (didn’t this guy watch American Horror Story), sees Lester (the always amazing David Dastmalchian) who is rife with grief after the mysterious death of his three children, death that he’s being blamed for. The problem is, Lester didn’t come to his appointment alone…he brought the Boogeyman, and when Lester closes his session by hanging himself in an upstairs room Mr Boogey is left in need of a new haunt.
As you can probably tell from the synopsis above, the story is light and somewhat basic. It does feel like there was more to say about the families trauma and what they were dealing with. Doing so may have elevated the film past just a scary flick to something memorable but we’re not buying tickets for a character study, we want the scary, right? Savage seems to know that and focuses solely in on it creating an atmosphere of suspense and loading the scares one after another. If you take nothing else away from this it will be that Rob Savage knows how to engineer a proper jump scare. So that’s a definite plus, but the most disturbing thing about the movie to me, and this seems to be a growing trend, is that the film isn’t scared to put kids in danger. There was a time when Jason Voorhes could commit mass murder but as long as you were under the age of 14 you were safe. I won’t go into any spoilers but there are plenty of points in this film where you wonder just how far they’ll go.
What I say next may tread into spoiler territory but I think it’s important to have a proper expectation set. If you’re hoping to see The Boogeyman in all his glory, front and center, you may be a bit disappointed. The demon is shown sparingly and not until the climax of the film. I think it was enough, but know that some really get a hitch in their giddy up when they don’t see the bad guy in hi-def.
The Boogeyman stands are a more then solid 90 minutes of fear. From it’s off-putting introduction to it’s terrifying climax anyone that is in the mood for a good haunted house type flick won’t be disappointed. I will say that my expectations may have been a little over-elevated after the big deal that was made about moving this film from a streaming only release to theatrical after some really successful test screenings. Regardless, I can say that it was the right move…there’s just something about seeing a scary movie in a theater full of people, it’s a feeling that can’t be replicated at home.
The Boogeyman is in theaters now.