film / tv / substack / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / substack / web / celeb

230530180834-03-boogeyman.jpg

Review: ‘The Boogeyman’ is Honestly, Whatever

By Lindsay Traves | Film | June 6, 2023 |

By Lindsay Traves | Film | June 6, 2023 |


230530180834-03-boogeyman.jpg

I’m not going to do it. I am not going to sit here and again go through my little spiel about “grief as a monster” in horror movies. Just click on my author page and find another review because I am not going to do it. What I am going to do is point out that while the bit might be tired and repetitive, it’s mostly kept afloat with unique stories, interesting writing, and cool twists on the sub-sub-genre. That is not the case with The Boogeyman, 20th Century Studios’ derivative tale about a sad family fighting off a creature made of their trauma.

Based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name, The Boogeyman functions as sort of a sequel, though one that doesn’t leap off from its twist ending. David Dastmalchian (whose crisp and vampiric aura have cemented him as ubiquitous in the horror space) is Lester Billings, the man who tragically lost his three children to a monster. He comes to William Harper (Chris Messina), a therapist whose family is attempting to recover from the loss of his wife. Billings dies in their home, leaving Harper’s daughter, Sadie (Sophie Thatcher, coming off of Yellowjackets) to try and heal herself from trauma and protect her family from the mystery of the monster her younger sister sees in the dark.

The Boogeyman cobbles together tropes and bits from similar movies like Insidious, Mama, and Lights Out. And while it’s not a crime to lean on and borrow from your cohorts, this telling feels like a quickly sewn together franken-edit of those movies as opposed to its own story in their collective vein. The Boogeyman lives in closets, but for this movie, he also lives in the dark so that we can get Lights Out style lighting gags and The Conjuring style door slams. The monster is maybe ancient and seems to have tormented one family for a while, but it latches on to grief-stricken families so we can get some of Smile and some Sinister versions of monster lore (the latter’s monster is nicknamed “Mr. Boogie.”).

The script was penned by A Quiet Place’s Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, along with Mark Heyman, and they seem to have strung some scenes together to make something familiar. Director Rob Savage, coming off of the grotesque Dashcam, and the well-received, Host (clips of which are ramrodded into the movie despite having no actual connection), is at least on a leash here, though seems more focused on crafting jump-scares than any horror magic. Decisions made throughout seem to be for the sake of set design and appearance over story (the monster thrives in the dark, so a woman covers all her windows and burns candles to keep it light!) That makes it easy to nitpick (they all have phones and then put them in their pockets and struggle to find light sources!) which calls attention to how much work was done to craft tableaus instead of telling a coherent story.

If there’s credit due, it’s that the “style-over-substance” scenes do sometimes look good. While lots of this was already covered by Lights Out, creative light sources like Christmas lights, a fridge, and a wireless moon lamp create some visual interest. The camera does some flips and turns in ways that aren’t particularly unique but make early scenes more interesting to watch. The creature, itself, is mostly cloaked in darkness (as is apparently one of its rules) which also serves to hide its nothing-special CGI seams.

The Boogeyman is another in the canon of spooky and accessible creature features, this time grasping to the grief-as-a-monster horror of recent years. It’s junk food for jump-scare enthusiasts but its feeble story and shallow attempts at lore and connection render it obtuse. At least most modern closets have sliding doors and we don’t need to fear they might slam.


‘The Boogeyman’ hit theaters June 2, 2023