Movie Review: ‘The Boogeyman’

Review by Lauryn Angel

I won’t say I went into The Boogeyman with low expectations, but I definitely felt some trepidation. I often find PG-13 horror movies unsatisfying – mostly jump scares or just too tame overall. On top of that, I grew up in the 80’s, when adaptations of Stephen King’s horror stories were. . . not great. So I hoped for the best, but didn’t get my hopes high.

The movie is based on a short story included in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift, which also includes the stories that gave us the 80’s flicks Children of the Corn, Maximum Overdrive, and Cat’s Eye. The story is confined to the office of a psychiatrist and a session between Dr. Harper and his patient, Lester Billings. Writers Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, and Mark Heyman and director Rob Savage have fleshed out the story, making it a great creepy summer movie.

The movie focuses mostly on Sadie Harper (Sophie Thatcher), daughter of therapist Will Harper (Chris Messina). The family, which also includes 11-year-old Sawyer (Vivian Lyra Blair) are reeling from the loss of their mother. Despite the fact that he’s a therapist and likely helps others work through grief, Will is unable to work through his own and therefore also unable to be there for his daughters. On top of this, Sadie is experiencing bullying from some of her so-called friends at school, amplifying her feelings of grief and alienation.

Against this backdrop, the key scene between Dr. Harper and Lester Billings (David Dastalmachian) occurs in Harper’s home office. Billings tells Harper about the deaths of his three children at the hands of a shadowy creature – the “Boogeyman” of the title. Unfortunately for the Harper family, Billings brings the Boogeyman with him, and Sawyer’s fear of the dark is a perfect vehicle for the movie’s use of shadows and jump scares to build tension throughout the movie until Sadie starts to believe her sister.

Dastalmachian, familiar to many audiences as a comedic actor, really shines as the tortured Lester Billings. He manages to make the character of a man wrongly accused of killing his children both creepy and sympathetic. Thatcher and Blair are both excellent as Sadie and Sawyer. And the movie uses Sawyer’s moon lamp so effectively that you’ll likely want one of your own as a boogeyman detector.

The Boogeyman is a solid summer supernatural thriller with a family drama at its core. I recommend seeing it in a packed theater, to get the full effect of the shadowy scenes and jump scares. Horror movies are always better as a shared experience.

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