‘The Boogeyman’: The Only Thing Scary Is How Bad This Movie Is

Spooky sounds, creaking floors, and other assorted cliches do not provoke frights in this incomprehensible waste of time, adapted from a Stephen King short story.

Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair in ‘The Boogeyman.’ 20th Century Studios

The Boogeyman, a pointless, misguided and totally incomprehensible waste of time, is yet another horror film that exists for the sole purpose of exploiting the endless desk-drawer doodlings of writer Stephen King.

THE BOOGEYMAN (0/4 stars)
Directed by: Rob Savage
Written by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Mark Heyman
Starring: Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian
Running time: 99 mins.

This one is based on a minor short story from the 1970s in which a sexy therapist (Chris Messina, famous for his many nude scenes in other films, including Digging For Fire and 28 Hotel Rooms) and his two daughters, already traumatized beyond control by the recent death of their mother in an unexplained car accident, are driven over the edge when the doctor is visited in his home office by a new patient suspected of murdering his own two children. Before the shrink can complete a call to alert the police, the man hangs himself, leaving the girls terrified that there’s a monster hiding in their closet.

The rest of the movie is a collection of spooky sounds, creaking floors, imaginary heavy breathing, shadowy visions of things that go bump in the night, and other assorted cliches. Inept director Rob Savage is more devoted to cataloguing as many contrived jump scares as possible than he is in explaining creepy phenomena or developing narrative logic. The result is a horror film that makes no sense, leaving out the two most important requisites of any successful monster movie—an intriguing plot that gets you hooked and an “aha!” ending that leaves you satisfied—to make you feel you haven’t been wasting your time on nonsense.

Every attempt to address the fears faced by the children in The Boogeyman invokes laughter instead of thrills. (The clueless dad concludes his daughters’ obsession with the idea of a monster in their closet is the result of “smoking too much weed,” although one of them is eight years old.) No effort is made to validate or examine the horrors that occur. Is the creature a ghost of the suicidal wacko patient who invaded their home for no reason, or the spirit of their dead mother? Either way, what does the monster want? How does it manage to appear  in so many places at the same time? Is there more than one? How is it that people scream but nobody hears them?

The special effects don’t raise a single goose bump, the acting is uniformly dreadful, and when the real monster finally shows up, it’s the kind of fire-breathing freak with multiple tongues dripping blood that only the most committed, die-hard horror-flick fan would find interesting. Extrapolating an experimental  Stephen King discard into something substantial might have made a better comic book—or best of all, left alone entirely.

Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.



‘The Boogeyman’: The Only Thing Scary Is How Bad This Movie Is