#REVIEW: “THE BOOGEYMAN”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
What scared you as kid? What kept you up late at night, too frightened to look under your bed or into your closet? Chances are it was something akin to The Boogeyman, who you only heard of in passing yet believed existed and tormented you while you were getting to sleep every night.
That terrifying entity is the big bad in this titular adaptation of Stephen King’s short story. After a startingly opening that tells you no one is safe, we are in the home of Therapist Will Harper (Chris Messina, who absolutely slayed in Ben Affleck’s Air earlier this spring) conducting a session. He lives there with his older daughter Sadie (Yellowjackets’ MVP Sophie Thatcher) and his younger daughter Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair, who played young Leia on the Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series). The kids are still reeling from the unexpected death of their mother a month earlier, and Will has literally thrown himself into work in order to not have to discuss his feelings.
Without spelling it out any further, the kids soon discover that something terrifying is lurking in the darkness and must figure out how to destroy it before it comes for them.
Others have already spoken at length about how the Film tackles the themes of grief and acceptance, and how they tie into the physical manifestation of this Film’s monster (not unlike his brethren and Pride icon The Babadook). I am going to be a little more direct – THE BOOGEYMAN scared the hell out of me and made me audibly gasp more than once. You may be whiffing at the Film being rated PG-13, but you could not be anymore wrong. It pushes the very limits of its rating, grabs a hold of you and never lets go. Instead, it just rachets up the tension and terror gradually until it explodes in unexpected ways. Seeing this in a packed theatre is sure to be nightmare fuel; the kind that will have you keeping the lights on when you go to bed that night.
I really should not be surprised in how unsettling an experience the Film is. It’s co-Written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods who previously wrote A Quiet Place, and directed by Rob Savage, who gave us the absolutely sinister Zoom-Thriller Host back when we were all stuck in our homes not so long ago. These three, and the entire behind the scenes team, are firing on all cylinders here, delivering a low-fi creature feature that rightfully landed in theatres versus straight to streaming. The way the scares keep coming is a thing of beauty, as are some of the ingenious camera movements and spine-chilling set-ups. Some of the subplots could have used more finesse, as could some of the infuriating logic breaks that only happen in the movies (the monster comes out when its dark, so it’s totally a great idea to play a video game in a dark room with all the lights off), but the dread and fear that permeates through the entire picture more than make up for it.
Some cleaner CGI may have helped too.
On the acting side, Messina and Blair are solid, as is Character Actor David Dastmalchian whose memorable small part really kicks the Film into high gear. That said, Thatcher soars above all of them with a commanding and fearless performance that you will be unable to look away from. She is nuanced beyond her years, and wisely taps into the grief, anger and terror her character experiences with the right cadence and rhythm. Could we be witnessing the rise of a future Scream Queen?
I watched THE BOOGEYMAN over a week ago and am still unsettled as I type this review out. The Film delivers on the promises of its trailers and then some. Savage as a Director and Thatcher as a performer were already talent to watch out for. Their work here just seals the deal.
20th Century Studios Canada unleash THE BOOGEYMAN in theatres on Friday, June 2, 2023.