The Boogeyman is a scream-filled reflection on grief

The Boogeyman - Courtesy 20th Century Studios
The Boogeyman - Courtesy 20th Century Studios /

The Boogeyman is a film based on the Stephen King short story of the same name from his early collection of short stories Night Shift. Rob Savage, best known for Host, took on this adaptation that stars Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets) as Sadie, a young and grief strapped teen dealing with the sudden loss of her mother in a car accident. Her father Will, played by Chris Messina (Air), is emotionally absent and distant and her little sister Sawyer, played by Vivien Lyra Blair, is very young and processing in her own way. As the grief and negative emotion bubbles to the surface, their home is visited by Lester Billings, a man whose family was the victim of what he describes as a supernatural creature who thrives in the darkness. Now, Sadie is left to grieve while grappling with the reality of a dark creature taking slow hold over her broken home.

The Boogeyman – Courtesy 20th Century Studios
The Boogeyman – Courtesy 20th Century Studios /

The Boogeyman is a fright-filled movie about a family dealing with some sort of supernatural entity at its core and let’s be honest, that is not a reinvention of the wheel. However, under the top layer, this film is truly a sobering look on the sudden grieving process and how it can affect everyone in a family differently. The Boogeyman in the film thrives in the darkness, and grief and depression do too. It’s a beautiful parallel painted by director Rob Savage that illustrates the painful and lonely dredge through the real world after the loss of someone important to you. After losing someone close to me in the last year personally, Savage was able to convey those moments of solitude where grief sneaks up on you and festers in the dark recesses of your reality. The raw and honest emotion packed carefully in to every fiber of this film was the secret sauce that elevated The Boogeyman to a different level then many films similar to it.

Viven Lyra Blair is hilarious and delivers an effortless performance in The Boogeyman

Sophie Thatcher had an excellent performance as Sadie, our main character. She was tasked with being the brunt of the emotional force and executed it flawlessly. However, the heart and soul of The Boogeyman came from Vivien Lyra Blair in her portrayal of Sawyer. She was the levity and comedic relief throughout that we needed with such heavy material and she didn’t waste a single line without making the audience smile or laugh. Chris Messina and Marin Ireland both turned in solid supporting performances as well, with Messina playing the grounded and stoic Will Harper very effectively. David Dastmalchian also maximizes every minute of his screen time with his chilling and creepy portrayal of Lester Billings.

The Boogeyman – Courtesy 20th Century Studios
The Boogeyman – Courtesy 20th Century Studios /

As a sucker for a great creature-feature, I loved the technical design on The Boogeyman himself. He looked horrifying and they experimented with some wild tricks and quirks with him as well. The borderline Lovecraftian ethereal nature of the creature made it unique and fresh. As always with creature films like this, the tightrope walk is tricky to balance showing the creature enough but not too much. The gold standard has historically been classic Jaws, showing the creature just enough but never too much for the audience to not be shocked when they see him. The Boogeyman does lean a bit too much into visually showing the creature and by the final act, the audience is almost used to seeing him, lessening that third act’s effectiveness every so slightly. Coupled with some cheesy high school friend moments and some slow moving portions, there are flaws with The Boogeyman. However, it does wrap a neat bow around the story in the final act and effectively executes a great spin on a classic King tale.

Ultimately, there is a ton to love about the newest edition to the unofficial Stephen King Cinematic Universe. A deep and somehow still terrifying reflection on the grieving process and the horrors that go along with it, The Boogeyman will speak to many people on an emotional level. Coupled with well-crafted technical elements and stellar performances across the board, The Boogeyman is a must for your summer viewing list and will find its way on many horror lovers screens every spooky season.

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