The Boogeyman
Rob Savage makes his first career misstep with a mediocre work-for-hire horror film, only loosely inspired by the original Stephen King short story.

The Boogeyman

Release Date: June 2, 2023
Runtime: 01:38
Still reeling from the tragic death of their mother, a teenage girl and her younger sister find themselves plagued by a sadistic presence in their house and struggle to get their grieving father to pay attention before it’s too late.
This entry is part [part not set] of 13 in the series Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast
Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast
Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast

A family is tormented by a closet-hiding monster in The Boogeyman. Sisters Sadie () and Sawyer Harper () are in grief after the death of their mother in a car accident, a subject that their therapist father Will () tries to ignore. One day, will is visited by a highly disturbed man Lester Billings () talking about how “The Boogeyman” killed his children. Lester ends up apparently hanging himself in a closet and soon afterwards Sawyer begins being tormented by something in the dark. The only person to believe Sawyer is Sadie, who visits Lester's widow Rita () for answers.

The Boogeyman Synopsis

The Boogeyman is a horror film directed by Rob Savage (Host, DASHCAM) and written by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (A Quiet Place), loosely based on the 1978 short story by Stephen King. Following a trend of recent horror films, The Boogeyman is framed under themes of grief and neglect, as Will Harper becomes distant from his daughters Sadie and Sawyer after the death of their mother, making them a target for the titular creature. Sadie has to find a way to stop The Boogeyman before it destroys her entire family.

My Thoughts on The Boogeyman

As demonstrated by both his debut feature Host and even last year's DASHCAM, despite the latter film's casting of a horrible human being in , Rob Savage is a very talented up-and-coming horror filmmaker. However, The Boogeyman is clearly a work-for-hire film for Savage, working off a quite mediocre mainstream horror script written by Bryan Wood and Scott Beck and re-written by Mark Heyman (Black Swan). The end result is a film that seems no different than the multitude of PG-13 horror films that receive wide releases.

The biggest selling point of The Boogeyman is that it is based on a story by Stephen King. However, looking up a plot synopsis of the original 1978 short story, I discovered that the only true adaptation featured in the film is the inciting incident of the distraught man Lester Billings talking about his encounters with The Boogeyman to a therapist. This means that the bulk of The Boogeyman is an original creation only loosely inspired by the original Stephen King story.

The cast of The Boogeyman, which includes up-and-comer Sophie Thatcher (Prospect, The Book of Boba Fett, Yellowjackets), as well as Chris Messina (Air, Devil) and David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad), do fine enough with the roles they are given in the film. Probably the most annoying, and highly unnecessary characters in the film are undoubtedly the clique of mean girls that Sadie's best friend Bethany () hangs out with. The worst of these is undoubtedly the character of Natalie (Maddie Nichols), who at one point disdainfully calls Sadie a schizophrenic.

There are a few attempts in The Boogeyman to build tension, particularly a scene where Sadie and Sawyer's therapist Dr. Welling (LisaGay Hamilton) uses a special light to try and cure Sawyer's fear of the dark, resulting in glimpses of The Boogeyman being seen by the child. However, when the full reveal comes later in the film, The Boogeyman is the typical CGI monster that is not really that much scary at all.

While I wouldn't call The Boogeyman a terrible horror film, I do consider it to be a misstep for Rob Savage. While every filmmaker needs to get work, here's hoping that in the future Savage takes less of these work-for-hire jobs and focuses more on the original horror projects that he has been churning out over the last few years.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.