Movie Review: The Boogeyman

It's a fairly standard Stephen King adaptation and a successful enough movie, even if you won't remember it for long.


Some kids have a traumatic past; they’re confronted by a monster that doubles as a metaphor for depression.

You know: A Stephen King story.

In “The Boogeyman,” based on a King short story from 1977, the Harper family is coping with tragedy. Their mother has died in an auto accident; despite working as a therapist, dad (Chris Messina) can’t bring himself to talk about it, leaving older daughter Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) bitter and younger daughter Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) jumping at shadows. Unfortunately, there’s something in those shadows: A mysterious monster that lives around dark corners and afflicts those in the grip of loss.

As an excuse for spooky jump-scare setups, it’s effective. Director Rob Savage — whose COVID-era feature “Host” turned a Zoom meeting into a house of horrors — finds plenty of opportunities to hide the beady eyes and spindly limbs of his monster just out of sight, barely outlined in the corners of the always-dim Harper household.

As a metaphor … well, it’s a little on the nose. “The Boogeyman” depicts two subjects the horror maestro has explored in more depth elsewhere: failed parenting (watch “Pet Semetary”) and the destructive effects of depression (many, including “The Shining.”)

King is frequently criticized for hitting the same themes again and again — subjects that are further explained here by screenwriters Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and Mark Heyman — but his tales are more than effective if there’s juice in the setting and subject matter. “The Boogeyman” has neither; the reveal of the monster is somewhat disappointing, and its setting is disappointingly generic.

Thanks to Savage and cinematographer Eli Born, there’s enough atmosphere in “The Boogeyman” to make it serviceable for a Friday-night fright. Do yourself a favor and see it at the drive-in — the shadows beyond your windows will add to the unsettling mood (and might make up for dull stretches in the story).

My Rating: 6/10

“The Boogeyman” is now playing in theaters.

Categories: Sean Collier’s Popcorn for Dinner