The Boogeyman Unleashed: Exploring the Dark Depths of Fear

Still reeling from the tragic death of their mother, a teenage girl and her younger sister find themselves plagued by a sadistic presence in their house and struggle to get their grieving father to pay attention before it's too late.



The Boogeyman” is a film that explores the timeless fear of monsters lurking under the bed or in the closet, relying heavily on jump scares and psychological trauma to create an atmosphere of terror. Directed by Rob Savage and featuring Sophie Thatcher in a captivating lead role, the movie tells the story of Sadie Harper, a high school student grappling with the recent death of her mother. Her father, Will, who works as a therapist but is consumed by his own grief, fails to provide solace for Sadie and her frightened younger sister, Sawyer.

The plot takes an intriguing turn when a stranger named Lester Billings arrives at their home, recounting the mysterious deaths of his three children. Will contacts the authorities, but before they can arrive, Lester vanishes into a closet, leaving behind an apparent suicide. The traumatizing event further isolates Sadie, who is referred to grief counselor Dr. Weller instead of receiving direct emotional support from her father. Meanwhile, Sawyer becomes convinced that a menacing creature lurks in the shadows of her room, waiting to attack her once the lights go out.

As Sadie delves into Lester Billings’ life, she discovers eerie images of an otherworldly entity in a notebook left behind in her father’s office. Convinced of its existence, Sadie becomes determined to defeat the creature and protect her family from becoming its next victims.

While the theme of loss resonates strongly with audiences, recent horror films have often relied on deceased parents as a plot device without effectively blending it with the thrills and scares that audiences crave. “The Boogeyman” falls into this trend, starting as an exploration of a family coping with grief but ultimately transforming into a battle against a literal monster.

While the shift is not inherently problematic, it does little to elevate the film beyond a run-of-the-mill scarefest. While Beck and Woods, the writers, adeptly tap into universal emotions of vulnerability and longing, and Savage skillfully keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, the lasting impact of their efforts is fleeting.

The reliance on world-building and atmosphere-building, while skillfully executed, prevents “The Boogeyman” from achieving lasting greatness. In contrast to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween,” which effectively juxtaposed a sociopathic killer with the bright suburban normalcy, Savage derives his creepiness from daylight and selectively dim lighting that casts a menacing glow over the characters. Beck and Woods dedicate significant screen time to Sophie’s search for expository monologues about the origins of the Boogeyman, neglecting the other members of the Harper family who should be nearby and aware of the violent incidents occurring in their home.

Nevertheless, Savage’s confident direction sustains the film’s intensity, supported by strong performances from Messina and Blair. However, it is Thatcher who truly shines, capturing the improbable reality of a timeless spirit preying on the grieving and frightened. As Sadie, she deftly balances desperation and fearlessness, conveying her belief that decoding the monster’s mythology holds the key to moving on from her mother’s death.

Whether or not the film paves the way for a sequel, “The Boogeyman” stands as one of the better adaptations of Stephen King’s work, delivering scares that surpass its PG-13 rating, even if they lack originality. Given its association with one of the most recognizable myths of the past two centuries, it’s understandable why the filmmakers opted for a familiar approach to captivate contemporary audiences. While “The Boogeyman” effectively captures the fear of the dark, its impact dissipates once the lights come back on.

The Boogeyman” successfully taps into the universal fear of monsters hiding in the shadows, under the bed, or within the closet. The collaboration between director Rob Savage and writers Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, and Mark Heyman delivers a movie that knows how to scare its audience. However, despite its proficiency in technique and the captivating performance by Sophie Thatcher, the film falls short of reaching the pinnacle of the horror genre.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its exploration of the theme of loss. The death of Sadie’s mother sets the stage for a family struggling with grief and trauma. This relatable catalyst for emotion provides an engaging foundation for the story. Yet, the trend of using deceased parents as a plot device in recent horror films has led to a diluted impact. “The Boogeyman” follows this pattern, using loss as a driving force but failing to fully integrate it with the physical and psychological thrills that could have brought cathartic resolution.

The film’s reliance on jump scares and psychological tension is evident throughout. Savage’s direction skillfully keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, ready to jump at every shadow and unexpected noise. The eerie atmosphere created by the dimly lit scenes and the sense of impending danger effectively amplifies the fear factor. However, these techniques, while momentarily unsettling, fail to leave a lasting impression. The scares offered by “The Boogeyman” lack originality and fail to contribute to the genre in a groundbreaking way.

The world-building in the film, although well-executed, also falls short of its potential. Savage attempts to derive creepiness from morning sunlight and selectively limited illumination. While this creates an unsettling atmosphere, it does not match the sheer terror evoked by John Carpenter’s “Halloween” with its juxtaposition of a relentless murderer in a seemingly idyllic suburban setting. Additionally, the extensive focus on Sophie’s quest for information about the Boogeyman’s origins takes away from developing the other members of the Harper family. Their lack of awareness or proximity during intense and horrifying incidents in their own home feels implausible and undermines the film’s logic and tone.

Despite these shortcomings, the film boasts solid performances. Chris Messina and Vivien Lyra Blair offer sturdy support as Sadie’s grief-stricken father and frightened sister, respectively. However, it is Sophie Thatcher’s portrayal of Sadie that truly stands out. Thatcher navigates the fine line between desperation and fearlessness, effectively capturing Sadie’s determination to understand the monster haunting her family. Her performance lends credibility to the improbable reality of an ancient spirit preying on those in grief.

As the movie concludes, leaving room for a potential sequel, it becomes apparent that “The Boogeyman” delivers scares that surpass its PG-13 rating but lacks the inventiveness required to leave a lasting impact. It successfully revives one of the most recognizable myths of the past centuries, relying on familiar tropes to captivate contemporary audiences. While it effectively reminds viewers of the fear of the dark, the film’s effect fades once the lights are back on. Despite its flaws, “The Boogeyman” remains a decent addition to the history of Stephen King adaptations, offering an entertaining experience while leaving room for improvement in the genre’s canon.

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Country: USA

Director: Rob Savage

Writter: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Mark Heyman

Actors: Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair

Duration: 1h 38m