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The Boogeyman (2023)

Very Effective Atmosphere Buoys a Well-Worn Plot

Score 9/10 - Highly Recommend

Posted by Anthony DeRouen | June 7th, 2023

The Boogeyman doesn't break any new ground; however, it still serves as a hellish ride through a grief-stricken house.




Still with me? Here we go!

The films opens to what horror fans have grown accustomed to seeing (and expecting) a tense and terrifying introduction to a malignant presence. In this instance a child is killed off-camera, but not after we hear a strange, grotesque mix of human and demonic voices emanating from the stalking, shadowy creature. Truly the filmmakers couldn't have started the movie any better, and this leads me to expand on The Boogeyman's greatest achievement: sound design.

If you have followed my previous reviews, or listened to the Grim and Bloody Podcast you'll know I'm a huge fan of good sound design. What is sound design? Sound design is is the craft of combining every piece of audio in a film—including dialogue, sound effects, ambiance, score, and soundtrack—to create the film’s soundscape. Good horror films pay attention to this final aspect, and The Boogeyman delivers.

Visually and sonically The Boogeyman is worth the price of admission. Narratively, the film follows some well-worn and tired tropes. David Dastmalchian's brief cameo as the grief-stricken father who lost his children is the exemption. The scene between him and the protagonists father (played by Chris Messina) is a standout piece of cinema, and the exception to the rest of the film. David Dastmalchian is a gifted actor that conveys creepy with abundance and ease.

So the Harper family recently lost their mother. The father, Will Harper, is taking it hard, and has placed some distance between himself and his two girls Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair). What irked me is how passive and unavailable the father is, despite working as a therapist from home. he's only in a handful of scenes and barely registers a presence.

I get it: his aloofness serves to leave his daughters vulnerable to the Boogeyman's wants, but I harken back to The Conjuring which saw the entire Perron family deal with evil together. There's something to be said for witnessing a strong-willed father of the house wilt under the pressure of relentless evil.

The story is told through Sadie's eyes, and this does prove to be an effective POV if we had to choose. Teenagers process loss differently from children and adults. They are caught in between a child's innocent confusion (why is is Mommy gone?) and an adult's burden of responsibility (It was my fault I forgot to buy butter and she went out for it). They are the most exposed to the elements, if you will.

The creature's slow and steady introduction was done well, until the third act when it became an overt physical confrontation. Most of the tension was lost and replaced with loud bangs, shotgun shells, bodies torn asunder and beady eyes staring out from the abyss. Again, this was done well cinematically, but for anyone who's seen Alien (which comprises most of us) this is the well-worn ground I alluded to earlier. By contrast, the ending to Babadook was done in similar fashion, but the physical portion was brief and impactful.

In closing, The Boogeyman is a solid film, with a solid cast and crew. Mileage may vary story-wise but you'll be hard pressed to film another horror film worth the price of admission and hugely expensive tub of popcorn outside of Evil Dead Rise at the moment. A sequel may not be reaching in this case as the quintessential door is left open.

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