the bogeyman it feeds on the deepest primal fears we have as children. There is a horrible monster under the bed. It lurks waiting for the right moment to snatch you up. Or maybe it’s hiding in a dark closet, licking its claws in anticipation of a tasty snack. The film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic 1970s tale held promise. Menacing cinematography and clever editing set the stage for atmospheric scares. But the terror fizzles out badly with rote, predictable genre tropes. I wish the script created intelligent and believable characters who acted sensibly in threatening situations.
Psychiatrist Will Harper (Chris Messina) sits in his home office listening to a patient’s grief. He gives words of encouragement before a tender goodbye hug. Will faces his own abyss of pain. Today is the first day back to school for his daughters after the tragic death of his mother in a car accident. He internalizes the pain while teenager Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) expresses hers openly. Young Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) is caught in the middle.
Will leaves Sadie between whispers of condolences and awkward looks. She wears headphones to block out the outside world. A visit to her locker reveals a packed lunch with a sweet note. The last message from her dear mother written in a rotten bag. Her best friend (Madison Hu) cheers her on, but the mean girl clique isn’t exactly rooting for her.
David Dastmalchian as Lester Billings
Back at the house, Will receives a strange visitor. Broken Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian) desperately needs help. Will is disturbed when Lester relates the mysterious deaths of his three children. The infant went first. Then the others followed in hideous succession. He didn’t believe her terrifying tales of a “shadow monster.” Now everyone thinks he murdered them. Will makes an excuse to ask for help. He returns to find his office empty and loud noises upstairs. Will doesn’t realize that Sadie dropped out of school and came home.
Sawyer has a ball-shaped night light. She keeps it in his bed and under the covers while he sleeps. He creates a focal point around him while the room is inky black. He hears the slow creak of his closet door opening. She sees a faint pair of eyes staring back at her. There is no definition, but something is definitely present. Director Rob Savage (Host, Dashcam) uses darkness and light to successfully build tension. A similar scheme continues throughout the film with candles, cell phones, and video games. There is no immediate monstrous reward. Your imagination fills the void until Boogeyman appears.
Nobody behaves logically after a strong opening. Why would a parent allow a terrified child to sleep alone in a room? This is patently absurd in the wake of the death of Sawyer’s mother and the appearance of actual physical injuries. No nanny cams available at Walmart or Amazon? It’s even more ridiculous when Sadie wanders alone through haunted houses and basements. No teenage girl with an ounce of self-preservation would engage in such dangerous activities. Willing suspension of disbelief can only go so far. An artificial situation is not scary.
The gut reactions of Boogeyman Stokes
Kids get hurt in this movie. It’s made to stoke gut reactions and it accomplishes that goal. Violence against children can be inferred, but for some, its representation in the bogeyman it will be a huge mistake and show the lack of good judgment of the filmmakers. The film ultimately disappoints by turning legitimate psychological fear into a stale horror retread.
the bogeyman is a production of 21 Laps Entertainment and TSG Entertainment. It will have a theatrical release on June 2 from 20th Century Studios.