The Boogeyman Review – The Reason 4-Year-Olds Are Afraid of the Dark Is Here to Give New Reasons for Adults to be Too

The Boogeyman doesn't need an R-rating to make us afraid of the dark.

Stephen King’s classic short story The Boogeyman gets the big-screen treatment in this terrifying new film. High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister, Sawyer, are still reeling from the recent death of their mother. When a desperate patient unexpectedly shows up at their house seeking help, he leaves behind a terrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and feeds on the suffering of its victims. The Boogeyman is a chilling and suspenseful film that will leave you sleeping with the lights on.

I’m Too Old To Be Afraid of the Dark… But Here We Are

David Dastmalchian as Lester in 20th Century Studios’ THE BOOGEYMAN. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The Boogeyman follows the Harper family, who have recently lost their matriarch. Each member of the family is doing their best to cope with it on their own and each member is visibly burdened with grief that keeps them apart. Chris Harper, the father to Sawyer and Sadie, is a therapist who sees clients at home and sends his kids to another therapist in order to deal with their grief. Sadie is the eldest daughter who is desperate for a chance to connect and say goodbye to her mother. Then lastly, Sawyer, the youngest daughter, is afraid of the dark and seemingly processing the situation the best.

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According to the film’s lore, as told by Lester (David Dastmalchian) when he comes in for a session and unwittingly introduces the creature of darkness to the Harpers, the Boogeyman latches onto the sadness and loss of people. He then uses their grief to play with them until he decides to eliminate them. With the loss of their matriarch, the Harper family is prime prey for the monster.

The Boogeyman is Real

The Boogeyman
(L-R): Sophie Thatcher as Sadie Harper and Vivien Lyra Blair as Sawyer Harper in 20th Century Studios’ THE BOOGEYMAN. Photo by Patti Perret. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The film is terrifying. The use of darkness and light is an absolute masterpiece. Combined with the choice to not show the monster for the majority of the film sets the audience’s imagination ablaze, forcing them to fill in the blanks with terror. So even if it’s not there, your mind puts something there, and even though the film is fictional (hopefully), the terror is completely real.

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The entire audience audibly screamed, yelped, and quivered. The tension and uncontrollable urge to hide were palpable. The primal fear of the dark and the terrors it hides from childhood was reborn into a theater full of grown-ups.

On top of the horror and terror, the interplay of darkness and light, work as dividing and connecting threads. Light connects people and brings them together, darkness divides and isolates. The visual symbolism is very powerful and enhances the emotions of the scenes.

But the final element that really allows The Boogeyman to be terrifying, is that he murders children. The film doesn’t get too graphic visually with the horrific act, but it is definitely some of the more intense child violence in recent films. The film brilliantly use shadows and sounds to really show the movie is going there. And later, we see Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) take some hits. No one is safe from The Boogeyman.

Boogeyman Said His Terror is Rated E, For Everyone

Aside from the master visual, and audio, storytelling, the performances really drive the impact and connect the audience to what’s going on on screen. David Dastmalchian has a small role, but it is pivotal and gut-wrenching. He sets the tone for what is to come. His pain gives the Boogeyman creature its omnipresence and gravitas. Making it feel like it’s always there and lurking.

Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair take that and give the Boogeyman life. Thatcher is the audience’s guide through the family situation and the increasingly real danger that has befallen them. She wonderfully connects audiences to the grief she and her family are experiencing as well as leads us into confronting the creature. She is definitely a target of the monster, but a lot of her horror could be self-imposed, like much of the audience. Her imagination makes things worse than they are, and her refusal to admit the creature is real is often at her own peril. Her performance grounds the film and ties everything together.

Vivien Lyra Blair is why you will be sleeping with the lights on after the film. Blair is our guide to the monster. She is the prey that is being toyed with. Where Thatcher’s situations are ambiguous a lot of times, Blair’s are directly and undeniably caused by the creature. Blair fully sells the terror and will have audiences fighting to not cover their eyes.

Nothing Under the Bed

The Boogeyman
(L-R): Sophie Thatcher as Sadie Harper, Chris Messina as Will Harper, and Vivien Lyra Blair as Sawyer Harper in 20th Century Studios’ THE BOOGEYMAN. Photo by Patti Perret. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The Boogeyman is a wonderfully terrifying horror film. The tension control, unexpected and fully earned jump scares, and the simple touching story of a family overcoming grief is a terrific movie-going experience. The decision to move the film to a theatrical release was the absolute right call as this film is definitely made more enjoyable in a shared experience. The screams of others, the uncontrollable wincing and shielding of the eyes, you feel it all around you. It’s everything you want in a horror movie experience.

For being the epitome of a group horror movie experience and making me afraid of the dark again, I give The Boogeyman a 9/10.

The Boogeyman crawls into dark theaters on June 2, 2023.

About The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman

Release Date: June 2, 2023 (USA)
Directed by: Rob Savage
Screenplay by: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods, Mark Heyman
Screen Story by: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods
Based upon the Short Story by: Stephen King
Producers: Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Dan Cohen
Executive Producers: John H. Starke, Emily Morris, Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Ryan Cunningham, Adam Kolbrenner, Robin Meisinger
Production: 21 Laps Entertainment, NeoReel
Distribution: 20th Century Studios
Genre: Horror-thriller
Rating: PG-13
Cast: Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, Marin Ireland, Madison Hu, LisaGay Hamilton, and David Dastmalchian

20th Century Studios presents “The Boogeyman,” a horror-thriller from the mind of best-selling author Stephen King, which opens June 2, 2023, in theaters nationwide. High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister Sawyer are reeling from the recent death of their mother and aren’t getting much support from their father, Will, a therapist who is dealing with his own pain. When a desperate patient unexpectedly shows up at their home seeking help, he leaves behind a terrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and feeds on the suffering of its victims.

Are you brave enough to revisit The Boogeyman? Do you already have your tickets? How many people do you need with you to feel safe? Let us know your thoughts and reactions on social media!

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Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.