The Boogeyman (2023): Embracing darkness, supernatural scares and emotional layers

The Boogeyman is a pretty solid movie, and here is why...
Premiere Of 20th Century Studios' "The Boogeyman"
Premiere Of 20th Century Studios' "The Boogeyman" / Jesse Grant/GettyImages

The Boogeyman is a 2023 horror film directed by Rob Savage, based on Stephen King's 1973 short story of the same name. As with plenty of noteworthy horror tales, it delves into themes of grief, fear, and the supernatural. The story follows high school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister, Sawyer, as they cope with the recent death of their mother.

Their father, Will, a therapist, is struggling with his own grief and is unable to offer much support. Things start going crazy when a distraught patient, Lester Billings, unexpectedly shows up at their home, seeking help from Will. Lester's appearance brings with it a terrifying supernatural entity (our "the boogeyman") that preys on the family's worst fears.

Strengths of The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman has received mixed to positive reviews from critics and audiences, but that's pretty standard. Here's what matters more: I could imagine it being a feature at someone's Halloween party, even if it's a bit more of a serious film. It is a good mainstream horror film, in my opinion, and I like that I was able to forget it was a Stephen King adaptation. I was really more focused on the story and characters than on any detail like that.

Legitimate praise has been directed towards the film's atmosphere, direction, and performances, particularly those of Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair. In fact, one critique I might have is that their performances might dominate the film too much (sort of a good problem to have, though, especially in a decent movie).

However, I have noted that some critics (and horror fans) feel that while the film is effective in delivering scares, it follows familiar horror tropes and doesn't offer much new to the genre. Of course, one of my critiques of that critique is that "tropes" are pretty much built into horror, in terms of themes and style, so expecting "knock-your-socks-off" originality is a bit unrealistic. The film explores deep psychological themes and uses the supernatural as a metaphor for unresolved trauma and grief.

Are there movies similar to The Boogeyman?

Yes, of course! The Boogeyman may be reminiscent of The Babadook and Hereditary, along with other horror flicks involving grief. So, really, if you're feeling burnt out on the genre, you might want to skip out on this until you're more in the mood for it. On the bright side, it combines elements of classic haunted house narratives with modern psychological horror, resulting in a chilling and emotionally resonant experience.

The Boogeyman is a pretty well-crafted horror film that will (probably) appeal to fans of Stephen King's work and (probably) those who enjoy atmospheric and character-driven horror stories. I think it effectively balances scares with emotional depth, making it a notable entry in the 2023 horror film lineup. And hey, as I often say in my reviews: I have seen far, far worse. Go ahead and check this one out!

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