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The Boogeyman ★



Director: Rob Savage

Cast: Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian & Marin Ireland

Release Date: 2nd June 2023

After the success of Host, which is easily his best work to date, and the MAGA/Pandemic social-media horror Dashcam, Rob Savage uses Stephen King’s short story entitled, The Boogeyman as source material for what should be a shattering and terrifying portrayal of grief. The problem is, it just really isn’t any of those things. Told with no rhythm or any sense of individuality found in the likes of Host, The Boogeyman is so undercooked and one-note that for most of the 90-minute run-time, you’ll be left wondering how on earth this impressed King himself.

After the tragic death of her mother, Sadie Harper — played by Sophie Thatcher — and her family are in total disarray. Their psychotherapist father, Will, played by Chris Messina, is distant and so wrapped up in his own grief and work that he chooses to ignore his daughter’s cries for help as a malevolent presence invades their house in the dark. Fuelled by loud thumps and dynamic photography, The Boogeyman manages to just about eek through its laborious run-time with a plethora of endless tone-deaf jump scares. This fixation with petrifying his audiences, so much so that he himself even boasts of having the “scariest films of all time according to medical science”, is a reflection of the current climate of studio horror.  

The common trend with contemporary studio horrors and their flagship directors is that they seem to forget that the horror doesn’t necessarily stem from objects or people flying through the mise-en-scene or endless loud bangs that beat you over the head but within the form of corporeal terror. Savages’ obsession with relentlessly shocking his audience and the so-called ‘scream factor’ associated with his films entirely derail any of the real horrors that are shown directly in the source material.

Whereas recent works such as The Outwaters and Skinamarink at least attempt to push the conventions of studio horror, The Boogeyman is only remotely interesting in maybe one or two moments. These desperately scarce moments come in the form of MVP Vivien Lyra Blair, who is truly fantastic as the younger daughter of the Harper family.

It is clear to see the impact of social media on audiences as the current trajectory of horror is aimed at viewers with the attention span of Tik Tok regulars. And what is even more painful to witness as a spectator is that it’s clear Savage is somewhat of a craftsman. Where Host used Zoom as an audiovisual platform to delve into the paranormal, The Boogeyman’s one-note take on grief ends up being entirely derivative and shamefully goofy. A myriad of diabolical special effects and shoddy editing take the limelight. Finally, it comes with no surprise that this is executively produced and written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, as The Boogeyman is entirely reliant on the visual and metaphorical reveries of A Quite Place. The issue Savage has is that this works for A Quiet Place but, sadly, not for his own film.

This review comes from a place of frustration due to the fact that horror can be the most expressive, empathetic and sincere genre in all of film, and it’s just endlessly bombarded by works that are only fuelled by ‘jump scares’ designed for the TikTok interface. To make it a little worse, Savage boasts of having made the “scariest films of all time”, according to the who-knows-what source of medical science, when his films, with the exception of Host, are tripe.

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