What lurks in the shadows is something that still scares many adults, and it certainly will frighten the living daylights out of those who dare see The Boogeyman, a lean, mean, and freaky monster flick based on a short story by Stephen King.
There’s nothing special about the story—a dad and his two daughters are terrorized by a creature that enjoys playing with his prey before going for the kill, in a house with inadequate lighting of course—but it doesn’t matter when you have a talented technician behind the camera. Director Rob Savage sets the scene with a disturbing opening, effectively ensnaring you with his tendrils in the first 30 seconds, and proceeds to squeeze your last digested meal from your entrails over the next 90 minutes. The Boogeyman is both suspenseful and downright scary. You can feel it in your guts the moment darkness sets in, and Savage never lets his characters play in daytime for too long.
What I especially liked about The Boogeyman is that Savage nails the terror by simply deciding to get straight to it. I’m a big fan of the original The Conjuring; James Wan terrorized his audience through patient camera shots, letting those poor bastards (us) suffer as they anxiously waited for a ball to roll across a room. Savage takes a more direct approach; he is still extremely effective at building suspense, but wastes little time in jumping to the scares. When you expect a door to slowly creak open, it slams wide. When you think the monster will lurk just out of sight, he lunges.
More impressive is that this movie is only PG-13; it certainly doesn’t feel it. And yet Savage misses a few opportunities, most notably involving a group of less-than-pleasant teenage girls who (slight spoiler) shockingly never come close to “being boogey-ed.”
The cast is great. Chris Messina and young Viven Lyra Blair are perfectly cast, though it’s Sophie Thatcher (“Yellowjackets”) who rocks the show. She plays her role to perfection, balancing trauma and fragility with fierce heroics. You can’t take your eyes off her.
The Boogeyman may not set the bar higher, but this is one of the scarier juant into the shadows we’ve seen in some time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.