The Boogeyman Review: Classic Stephen King Story Makes for Soft Horror
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As a PG-13 horror flick, The Boogeyman has a decidedly softer touch than Savage’s previous films or, indeed, its eerie opening. Despite featuring a structure that remarkably resembles last year’s creepier Smile, right down to the story acting as a metaphor for trauma, guilt, and grief, The Boogeyman lacks the existential dread or unrelenting despair of that previous work. This distinction turns out to be as pronounced as that between an R-rated picture and one assigned the theoretically more lucrative PG-13.

Despite its sinister premise, The Boogeyman seems a bit spooked in its own right, nervous about rocking the boat or alienating its target audience, which is presumably closer in age to Sadie and Harper than adult horror aficionados who saw Smile in theaters—or for that matter the far more daring PG-13 horror movie about a transmissive evil entity, The Ring.

The Boogeyman is a solid gateway chiller for 12 year olds at a sleepover, and will be the scourge of middle schoolers dipping a toe in the genre. In a darkened theater though, adults might instead find themselves wondering about film scripting theory, or why essentially every set piece is the same: poor little Sawyer is somehow, again, alone in a darkened room waiting to be attacked. (You might even second-guess why characters keep finding themselves in such a situation.)

The acting is uniformly good, with Messina continuing a strong year after stealing scenes from Matt Damon in Air. The standouts though are Thatcher and Blair, with the latter being especially impressive at so young an age at conveying a lifetime of impending therapy bills on her pint-sized face.

Her terror is never fully spread to the audience, however. I’ll admit to jumping a few times, leaning forward at others, but like the fake blood pooling behind the next door in a haunted house, you always know what’s coming and may find yourself chuckling along as much as tensing. And for an experience that pretends it’s as grim as that opening, being able to spot the safety wheels is a little disappointing.

The Boogeyman is in theaters on June 2.

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