Saturday, April 20, 2024

“THE BOOGEYMAN”

THE STORY – High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister, Sawyer, are still reeling from the recent death of their mother. They’re not getting much support from their father, Will, a therapist who’s dealing with his own intense pain. When a desperate patient unexpectedly shows up at their house seeking help, he leaves behind a terrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and feeds on the suffering of its victims.

THE CAST – Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair & David Dastmalchian

THE TEAM – Rob Savage (Director), Scott Beck, Bryan Woods & Mark Heyman (Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 98 Minutes


The best horror isn’t merely a scary monster that goes bump in the night. It’s an external rendering of our internal torment. Few understand this better than Stephen King. His work has continued to enamor audiences for decades because his terrors accentuate his characters’ inner turmoil, making both profoundly human and frightening stories. “The Boogeyman,” adapted from King’s short story of the same name, reflects a family’s grief through the monster under the bed. We’ve seen this sort of exploration before, but it’s still effective nonetheless.

The Harper family barely holds it together after their mother’s death. Will (Chris Messina), a therapist mired in his own grief, doesn’t know how to help his daughters cope with the tragedy. Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) has to do the heavy lifting to help her little sister Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) through the mess, even as Sadie finally heads back to school. A creepy new client named Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian) shows up at their home looking for an appointment with Will, cryptically talking about his children’s death. After cautiously indulging the man, Will calls the authorities, but it’s too late. Billings commits suicide in their home, or so it seems. Sadie takes center stage in the wake of so much death as she tries to confront the grief head-on. Sawyer soon begins to believe a monster is hiding in the shadows of her room. She’s terrified of the dark, sleeping with a large light-up moon to keep her away from the creeping darkness at night. Sadie initially doesn’t believe that a boogeyman could be haunting her sister, but the details of Billings’ life start to line up with the horrors in their own home.

Fresh off her breakout role in “Yellowjackets,” Thatcher is captivating in “The Boogeyman.” She grounds the film with a perfectly understated performance where her grief is palpable and her frustration with her father is delicate. She brings an honest truth to the film that elevates the story. Likewise, Messina, though not quite as center-stage as Thatcher, captures fatherly avoidance so well. Sadie needs to unpack these complicated tragedies with her dad, but he’s keeping his grief close to his chest. The family unit presented here is fully grounded through these performances as otherworldly events unfold around them. Blair shines, too, as the member of the family most tormented by the creature in the darkness.

So what about the primary aspect audience will seek out this film for; the horror? Unfortunately, this is less impressive than the exploration of familial grief, but still enjoyable nonetheless. Director Rob Savage finds ways to bring out the terror in both the light and the darkness. Sawyer’s light-up moon is a brilliant prop that rolls around the house, giving unique glimpses of a monster living in the shadows. Even in the daytime, dark corners still haunt Sadie. While much of the film is a slow burn, a few big jump scares still work really well to give audiences just enough of what they’re craving from a movie such as this. Solid production design throughout the house, along with compellingly creepy creature design, helps amplify the scares. Still, it’s a PG-13 horror movie, so any terror is limited by the rating, and audiences should adjust their expectations accordingly.

Grief, like being afraid of the dark, is universal. Even for those who have grown out of the fear, there’s an instinctual caution to dark spaces. “The Boogeyman” is far from the first film to tackle this base-level fear, but it’s captivating all the same. Sure, the movie is full of plot holes and logical leaps, but the family drama, and Thatcher’s effective performance, keep the film afloat just enough to satisfy. Will it revive a long-gestating fear of the dark? Probably not, but it’s a decent film that’s not looking to reinvent the horror movie wheel and still delivers an impactful balance of emotion and scares along the way.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Sophie Thatcher helps ground "The Boogeyman," building an understated tone that balances fear of a monster in the dark and grief that creeps in uninvited.

THE BAD - As far as horror films go, this isn't terribly frightening. The quiet tone may underwhelm some viewers expecting something more showy.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Sophie Thatcher helps ground "The Boogeyman," building an understated tone that balances fear of a monster in the dark and grief that creeps in uninvited.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>As far as horror films go, this isn't terribly frightening. The quiet tone may underwhelm some viewers expecting something more showy.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"THE BOOGEYMAN"