"The Boogeyman is a solid slice of supernatural horror that is worthy of a peak inside the ghoulish closet door."
BY JACK RANSOM JUNE 5, 2023
Based on the Stephen King short story, The Boogeyman sees high school student Sadie Harper (Sophie Thatcher) and her younger sister, Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair), still reeling from the recent death of their mother. They're not getting much support from their father, Will (Chris Messina), a therapist who's dealing with his own intense pain. When a desperate patient (David Dastmalchian) 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.
I can’t deny that my expectations were somewhat lowered for this. Director Rob Savage’s breakout success, 2020’s Host was very solid, but the swiftly released spiritual follow up Dashcam was irritating schlock with a genuinely insufferable protagonist. The trailers for The Boogeyman absolutely radiated generic-ness and as much I am a huge fan of King’s works, his adaptation output has been largely hit or miss. Surprisingly though, despite still ticking off a myriad of cliches, this 100 minute supernatural chiller is a solid watch that should prove an engaging distraction for horror fans.
There are countless horror features that utilise grief as a manifestation of the horrors that hound their lead characters and The Boogeyman doesn’t bring a lot of originality to the table in this regard. It does however, have a well written and realised family-centric dynamic of which each family member is attempting to deal with the tragedy that befell their mother/wife in their own different ways. The titular creature is more of a looming background element with a sprinkling of mythology surrounding its existence, which adds to its mystique.
Where the film excels is in its sound design and lighting. The creaking doors, thuds and crashes of rumbling objects, the eerie mixture of voices spewing from the creature and genuinely superb shadow usage that will have your eyes darting around the frame. I was a little disappointed with the creature design, especially with many praising it, though I won’t spoil specifics here (the choice was wise to keep it substantially out of sight) and whilst it effectively crafts some palpable tension, none of the jump scares startled me whatsoever.
Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lynda Blair have a genuine feeling sisterly bond. With the former’s angsty yet genuinely heartbroken teenage role never falls into cringey or false feeling and the latter showing childhood courage, as well as being outright petrified. Chris Messina brings a sombre attitude to their father and David Dastmalchian delivers a twitchy, unpredictable and uneasy portrayal in his brief appearance.
The Boogeyman is a solid slice of supernatural horror that is worthy of a peak inside the ghoulish closet door. It may not deliver a particularly unique or wholly terrifying experience and you do get the sense that its source material is limiting. However, its characters are surprisingly engaging and the direction, stylistic choices and superb lighting and sound work elevate it above the conveyor belt of ghostly guff we see a lot of now.