Turn on the lights or the Boogeyman will get you.
The little girl in “The Boogeyman” is so afraid of the dark, that she sleeps with a light ball and a few other lights on. Her father is amazed at how she’s able to sleep with them on. She’s probably going to need them when a sinister force comes into their lives. And that happens to be the Boogeyman, which was named by the last kids to see it and be killed by it.
This is the first full-length feature version of Stephen King’s short story, whereas we were given a 27-min short film in 1982. And while I have my reservations based on its tone and pacing, I still think it has smarter characters than your average horror film with jump scares. It’s more relaxing than the cliches in “Smile.”
The story involves two sisters-the high schooler Sadie Harper (Sophie Thatcher from “The Tomorrow Man” and “The Book of Bobo Fett”) and the little sister Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair from “Bird Box” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi”)-who are both struggling to get over the loss of their mother, while their therapist father Will (Chris Messina) has bottled up his emotions.
The eldest sister wears her mother’s dress to cope with the loss, youngest is the one who sleeps with all the lights on in the house, and the dad can’t even talk to another therapist.
Things get even worse, when Will receives an unexpected visitor from a man named Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian), who is accused of murdering his family, but claims that a sinister force has killed them-one-by-one. And then this character is murdered, and sets off a chain of reactions for the family.
The sisters respectively start seeing the figure, although the father has to believe that seeing a dead man in their home has affected their sanity. You bet he does. Their family therapist (LisaGay Hamilton) thinks Sawyer needs to get over her nyctophobia, while Sadie meets Lester’s wife (Marin Ireland), who has survived the attacks and tells her they call it “Boogeyman.”
I think I’ll take these girls over the ones in “Paranormal Activity 3,” because they aren’t noisy, but rather persistent and entertaining, especially when the loss of their mother and the welcoming of this evil force combines both emotions. Yes, they have to have a scene when the eldest tells the youngest the Boogeyman isn’t real, but it becomes a fly swap, which is refreshing to me.
This version of “The Boogeyman” was directed by Rob Savage, whose credits include smaller horror films like “Host” and Dashcam.” And the screenplay was written by Mark Heyman (“Black Swan,” “The Skeleton Twins”) and the duo Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (both behind “A Quiet Place”). This Stephen King horror film doesn’t compare to “It” or “The Shining,” because it lacks the atmosphere of truly terrifying horror films. But it does keep us at the edge of the seat, thanks to the performances (from Thatcher, Blair, and Messina) and the perseverance of how to (at least try to) defeat this creature.
There can also be some sly wit on the side, and there can also be a lot of dark images, because this creature obviously is a night person. Pun intended. I know it’s a demon. Although I would like to see it threaten the potty mouth kid from “Coffee & Kareem” or the mean characters in “The Binge” movies or any unlikable character from any bad film. Maybe this creature could help cure the fears of the main characters here, and they’re very likable people.
Just hope you have plenty of candles and flashlights if you get a power outage.