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The Boogeyman (2023): Film Review

Though The Boogeyman’s greatest strengths lie in suspense building and atmospheric setting, the feature is an unscary, generic horror flick with ineffective jump scares and a poor monster design.

When it was announced that The Boogeyman, based on a short story by Stephen King, was being adapted into a film, viewers were excited to see how a project with so much opportunity would be executed. Rob Savage directing the feature seemed a solid choice, as he’s certainly no stranger to the genre. His 2020 horror film Host is arguably one of the scariest to be released to date. Unfortunately, The Boogeyman struggles to mirror its greatness and is a generic letdown that fails to deliver satisfying scares.

To be fair, the first thirty minutes of The Boogeyman seem promising, and Savage is a pro at building suspense. I won’t get into spoilers, but the opening scene is the best of the feature and certainly grabs your attention, with a less-is-more approach and decent sound effects.

After that, we are introduced to Lester (David Dastmalchian), a grieving father who has lost another one of his children to a suspicious death. He seeks comfort by visiting a therapist, Will (Chris Messina), as he learns of the mental health professional’s wife’s recent passing and thinks he may be able to understand the grief he is experiencing.

Dastmalchian is brilliant as always, but his appearance in The Boogeyman is brief. Often, his talent flies under the radar, as he tends to play more minor roles. Of course, that could be a personal choice, but seeing his character’s story be so short-lived was disappointing.

Will’s two daughters, Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair), are grieving the loss of their mother. However, Sadie’s response to her passing is reflected more throughout the film. She wears her mother’s clothes for comfort to feel closer to her deceased parent. Viewers can’t help but feel sorry for Sadie as she navigates her new existence, and Thatcher gives an excellent performance, illustrating her emotions perfectly.

loud and clear reviews THE BOOGEYMAN film 2023 movie horror
Sophie Thatcher as Sadie in 20th Century Studios’ THE BOOGEYMAN. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Similarly, Lyra Blair‘s role is extremely well-acted, showcasing the crippling fear Sawyer is feeling. Thatcher and Lyra Blair also have believable chemistry as siblings, with Sadie taking on a maternal role in her baby sister’s life. The issue, however, is the screenplay surrounding the talented duo, with a bark bigger than its bite.

The atmospheric setting is one of the film’s strong suits, creating an eerie feeling each time the monster is near and has yet to unveil itself. Still, once the creature is visually seen for the first time, it’s underwhelming, unscary, and amateur in design.

The following scenes lose momentum when viewers know they’ll be greeted by a visually dissatisfying creature not only incapable of creating fright, but accompanied by unimpactful jump scares. In fact, the film works best before the monster is revealed, when the audience can still use their imagination to picture how it may look.

Though an overused trope, the grief subplot is interesting as it allows the actors to lean into their performances. However, the story has been done a million times before and has no originality or uniqueness. It also doesn’t bode too well when the most intriguing subplot isn’t The Boogeyman itself, which says a lot when it’s meant to be the focal point.

At the film’s close, The Boogeyman is left open-ended, suggesting a sequel may be on the cards. If that’s the case, I can only hope for a better monster design, a more original, fleshed-out story, and more effective jump scares the second time around.

The Boogeyman is now showing globally in theaters.

The Boogeyman: Trailer (20th Century Studios)
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