In the realm of horror, Stephen King is a name that commands attention. His stories have been adapted into countless films, and “The Boogeyman” is the latest addition to this cinematic repertoire. Originally intended for streaming, the movie’s positive reception among test audiences and the author himself led to a well-deserved theatrical release.
Harnessing the power of the big screen, “The Boogeyman” presents a slow-burn and atmospheric experience that will leave horror aficionados on the edge of their seats. Much of the film takes place in darkness, demanding the best high-definition televisions to capture the intricate details. Drawing inspiration from King’s short story featured in his Night Shift collection, the adaptation takes artistic liberties, crafting an intimate narrative focused on three central characters: Will, his teenage daughter Sadie, and her younger sister Sawyer. Their lives are still haunted by the recent loss of their mother, who tragically perished in a car accident. Their somber existence unfolds within a weathered, seemingly haunted house that exudes an eerie allure.
The story commences when Will, a therapist conducting his practice from home, is startled by the sudden appearance of a stranger named Lester. Clad in a grey beard and a corduroy jacket that exudes empathy, Will decides to lend an ear to Lester’s plea for an immediate consultation. Lester discloses that he has been wrongly accused of murdering his three young children and insists that their deaths were caused by a malevolent entity known as “the boogeyman” – an entity that preys on inattentive parents.
True to the tale, strange occurrences begin to unfold in the house, leaving Sadie and Sawyer convinced that the boogeyman has set its sights on them. Determined to uncover the truth, Sadie ventures to Lester’s supposedly deserted home, where she encounters his deeply disturbed wife. The chilling encounter validates the existence of the boogeyman.
Boogeymen, however, tend to be more terrifying in one’s imagination than in reality. Director Rob Savage expertly exploits this concept throughout “The Boogeyman,” building tension steadily with well-timed jump scares. The theatrical release further amplifies the impact through the immersive sound systems found in modern theaters. However, as the boogeyman is fully revealed in the final act, its frightful allure diminishes, transforming the film into a more predictable creature feature. This should not discredit the remarkable work of the creature designers, who have crafted impressive visuals.
As is customary in the horror genre, the characters often find themselves making dubious decisions, subjecting themselves to dangerous situations that evoke frustration from the audience. Additionally, the majority of the scenes are shrouded in darkness, reminiscent of a time when electricity was a luxury. Despite these tropes, “The Boogeyman” succeeds thanks to its meticulously crafted atmosphere, visually striking style (notably, the youngest daughter’s illuminated orb for protection), and the committed performances of an exceptionally talented cast.
Sophie Thatcher delivers a standout performance as Sadie, the resilient teenage heroine struggling to cope with her mother’s death while fiercely protecting her sister. Vivien Lyra Blair convincingly portrays a perpetually terrified young girl, provoking concerns about the emotional well-being of the young actress during the production. Chris Messina, known for his role as a manic sports agent in “Air,” presents a solid performance as the loving but powerless father. David Dastmalchian and Marin Ireland provide bone-chilling supporting portrayals, despite their limited screen time.
“The Boogeyman,” both as a literary work and a cinematic adaptation, may be considered a relatively minor entry in Stephen King’s vast repertoire. However, when executed with such precision, even minor King creations possess the ability to deliver major scares.
The film, directed by Rob Savage, skillfully navigates the nuances of terror, gradually tightening the grip on viewers’ nerves. With meticulous attention to atmospheric details and a masterful use of suspense, Savage creates an immersive experience that keeps audiences captivated throughout most of the runtime.
One of the film’s strongest assets lies in its ability to exploit jump scares to great effect. As the tension builds, each well-timed jump scare adds an extra layer of unease, sending shivers down the audience’s spines. These carefully crafted moments of terror benefit greatly from the theatrical release, as the enhanced sound systems amplify the impact, ensuring an unforgettable moviegoing experience.
However, it is in the final act that “The Boogeyman” slightly loses its footing. As the eponymous creature is fully revealed, its once-terrifying presence becomes more familiar, diminishing the fear it initially instilled. Nonetheless, credit must be given to the talented creature designers who have brought this formidable entity to life, showcasing their outstanding work.
Like many horror films, “The Boogeyman” does feature characters who often make questionable choices, finding themselves in perilous situations that elicit frustration from the audience. It’s a common trope that prompts viewers to shout warnings at the screen. Additionally, the film predominantly unfolds in near total darkness, reminiscent of a bygone era when electricity was a luxury. Despite these conventions, “The Boogeyman” manages to hold its own, thanks to its expertly calibrated atmospherics, striking visual style, and the unwavering commitment of the talented cast.
Sophie Thatcher delivers a remarkable performance as Sadie, the resilient and determined teenage protagonist grappling with the aftermath of her mother’s tragic demise. Her portrayal encapsulates the pain, fear, and unwavering determination to protect her younger sister. Vivien Lyra Blair, in her role as Sawyer, convincingly portrays a child overwhelmed by terror, leaving viewers genuinely concerned about her well-being during the production. Chris Messina, known for his portrayal of intense and aggressive characters, demonstrates his versatility as he steps into the shoes of a loving but powerless father. Finally, David Dastmalchian and Marin Ireland make a chilling impact with their brief yet vivid appearances, leaving a lasting impression.