What I find the most intriguing about the idea of the boogeyman is how universal it is. Even across the ocean, in my home country, I was told about him and feared him almost every night. Although they may have different name variations, the fear behind the so-called boogeyman is known to nearly all of us. Rob Savage uses this fear when presenting the narrative in his new movie, “The Boogeyman”, based on the short story by Stephen King. After the successful “Host” and the disaster of “DASHCAM”, Savage is back with a well-done horror that plays on our childhood fears while delivering a layered story with solid performances.
In “The Boogeyman”, Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) has a challenging day ahead of her. It’s the first day of school for her and her sister, Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair), following their mother’s death in a car accident. They are now attempting to navigate life without their matriarch under the care of their father, Will (Chris Messina), a kind but closed-off man. Everything changes when a troubled man enters their life and another tragedy hits, this time in the comfort of their own home. Soon, Sawyer complains about seeing a monster in her closet. Everything could be claimed as childish imagination if it wasn’t for real abrasions occurring on Sawyer’s body. When Will refuses to believe her, Sadie is the only one who can help.
While there is nothing unusual in “The Boogeyman” that would designate Savage’s film as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, it’s nonetheless a terrific gem for horror aficionados and those who are captivated by family dynamics in the horror genre. The action begins right away and rarely slows down. What stands out are the riveting performances of Thatcher, Blair, and Messina. The three representing distant, bereaved family appears to be a perfect match. Thatcher, known from Showtime’s “Yellowjackets”, again demonstrates her acting range and showcases an ability to play various shattered characters that don’t feel the same over and over again. Both actresses have terrific sisterly chemistry, nearly creating the impression that they’re related in real life. As Sadie and Sawyer, they wonderfully depict the sisters’ close friendship, which deepens following their mother’s passing. Thatcher beautifully expresses Sadie’s protective side as she guides Sawyer through nightmares, counseling, and conquering the girl’s phobias.
I always like scary films that address real-world issues. Similarly to the newly released “M3GAN”, “The Boogeyman” dwells on loss. Furthermore, Savage’s horror explores family relations in which members are grieving the loss of a mother and a wife. Showing the matter from different perspectives, the director expands on the theme, depicting not only children but also a parent in grief. In addition to the sisterly duo, Messina provides an excellent performance as a man who isn’t strong enough to tell his daughters how he feels because it hurts too much.
The narrative is as crucial in “The Boogeyman” as the direction. The storyline, written by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, and Mark Heyman, is complemented by Savage’s deft eye. Like Mike Flanagan’s work, for example, the creators take on the aforementioned real-life events and weave them into the film’s narrative as they perhaps reflect in the image of the boogeyman. Savage employs a variety of lighting techniques to highlight not only the titular character but also the emotions in the film. We frequently notice neon-red, green, and dark colors or dazzling, bright lights, such as Sawyer’s moon lamp, which must “keep her from the dark.” “The Boogeyman” contains few jump scares. Instead, the horror focuses on employing the utilization of light and shade to create the ideal ambiance for the plot.
Many may agree that the most terrifying aspect of the picture is its titular character. Although we don’t see the boogeyman very often, when we do, it’s terrifying. Quick shadows on the walls foretell his approach, and we gradually notice a pair of blazing, beady eyes looking and lurking somewhere in the background. You immediately get a shiver down your spine as the monster reminds you of your childhood and similar fears you may have had.
While “The Boogeyman” may not invent anything new, Savage’s latest film has a strong chance of being an instant summer horror hit. With its rich narrative and immediate action, Thatcher and Blair will both remind you of your innermost anxieties and positively daze you with their talent.