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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

The Boogeyman: Review

The Boogeyman Synopsis: High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister, Sawyer, are still reeling from their mother's recent death. They're not getting much support from their father, Will, a therapist dealing with his intense pain. When a desperate patient 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.

A sinister supernatural entity haunts a grieving family devastated by a tragic loss in The Boogeyman.

Like the days of 1920s black-and-white creature features and 1980s slashers before it, the horror genre is riding the roaring waves of a creative renaissance. Astute auteurs like Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, Jennifer Kent, and James Wan continue to conjure unnerving odysseys bolstered by their perceptive grasp of human and societal conditions. Everywhere audiences look, another audacious horror filmmaker appears around the corner to deliver an innovative bend on the genre.

The Boogeyman, aka the latest Stephen King adaptation to hit the big screen, arrives as an offspring of new-wave horror, but that's not exactly a compliment. Instead of defining a fresh path, this limp, scare-free feature puts viewers to sleep from its half-hearted spin on tired conventions.

Everything about The Boogeyman feels like a shallow husk of what its macabre peers have already achieved. The screenwriting trio of Mark Heyman, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods discover little inspiration in adapting a King short story, reducing the narrative's ominous roots into a solemn sludge of self-serious moments. Centering the story on a mourning family stuck in an endless cycle of grief is ripe for meaningful exploration.

The problem is; so many other films have capitalized on the same subject matter while approaching it with far more weight and innovation (The Babadook and Hereditary, just to name a few). Each half-drawn character and didactic dialogue exchange tries to work overtime for a film that ultimately has little to say about the lingering impacts of trauma. The deficiencies hurt even more when considering the cast's distinct talents. Character actor Chris Messina displays conviction as a patriarch struggling to pick up the pieces from tragedy, and emerging actress Sophie Thatcher defines an arresting screen presence in the role of an emotionally withdrawn teenager. Despite the actors' sincerity, neither leaves a mark in parts that come off as recycled leftovers from other horror features.

All would be forgiven if The Boogeyman could at least elicit a few indelible frights, but the scares are sadly just as generic as everything else here. Director Rob Savage envisioned a fascinating screenlife aesthetic in his first few features, The Host and Dashcam. His transition to studio filmmaking lacks that same visceral edge, with the filmmaker adopting a generic, studio-friendly sheen within the confines of his larger budget. There are a few handsomely crafted horror frames that utilize foreboding shadows and atmospheric lighting choices to some unnerving effect. However, most of the setpieces are competently composed yet vacant of genuine suspense. The rampant array of ineffective jump scares and overall sterile image lurk onscreen without unearthing palpable fear from the proceedings.

The Boogeyman was initially destined for a straight-to-Hulu release before 20th Century Fox had a change of heart. In hindsight, audiences might have been better off if this was an unceremonious made-for-streaming feature.

The Boogeyman is now playing in theaters.


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