THE BOOGEYMAN (DISNEY+) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister Sawyer are reeling from the recent death of their mother and aren’t getting much support from their father, Will, a therapist who is dealing with his own pain. When a desperate patient unexpectedly shows up at their home seeking help, he leaves behind a terrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and feeds on the suffering of its victims.
Not to be confused with the 2005 horror movie of the same title which actually spawned two sequels, this version of the Boogeyman is adapted from one of the Stephen King’s short stories though the similarities are scarily obvious.
While King’s original story is about Lester Billings who has lost three of his children to the creature hiding in the closet, this adaption from the guys who gave you A Quiet Place and 65 settles down on a therapist Dr. Will Harper (Chris Messina), her teenage daughter Sadie (Sophie Hatcher) and younger daughter, Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair from Obi-Wan Kenobi).
The Harpers are struggling in grief, the kids having just lost their mother and Will, his wife. Unfortunately, being a therapist himself, Will seems to be at a loss communicating with his daughters and instead referring them to another fellow therapist. Meanwhile, Sawyer is being haunted by a scary presence in the dark and her older sister happens to be the one who believes it is not some just wild imaginations by Sawyer. Instead, a sinister being is hiding in the dark waiting to consume the Harpers.
Since King’s original story is so skeleton and the movie version needs to be padded to at least 90 minutes or so, The Boogeyman in its final theatrical form delivers a good balance of narrative and scares to make things work. The opening prologue showing a baby trapped in a cot being terrorised by an unseen creature is wonderfully done and later on, David Dastmalchian shows up at the door of Dr. Harper being all creepy and gothic sets up the story efficiently. Dastmalchian plays Billings, the original star of King’s short story although sadly, he is only given less than 10 minutes of screentime in the movie adaptation.
Thus the entire story lies on the shoulder of Sophie Hatcher who plays the sullen, grieve-stricken teenager who can’t let go of her late mother. It’s at this point we learned that the Boogeyman preys on the hurt and vulnerable, mimics voices and is scared of the light. And it’s also from this point, the story turns from engaging to being too predictable and generic.
As per any contemporary horror movies, the movie suffers from one too many jump scares. The sound effects are top notch of course with creaking floors and closet doors. The creature is hidden for the most part if you consider this a good thing. Then there is the well-worn trope whereby a kid is trapped on the bed with the creature lurking under and in the closet, not remarkably impressive stuff. Point must be given though to the part whereby Sawyer is trapped on the couch with her playstation’s occasional emitting light saving her.
To be fair, Rob Savage’s The Boogeyman is more than a decent studio horror movie with its rich production design, atmosphere and sound design. But considering the lack of substantial explanation or folklore of the monster under the bed or inside the closet, this 2023 Boogeyman is only slightly watchable compare to the lacklustre 2005 version even if the former is based on a Stephen King material.
Review by Linus Tee