The Boogeyman (Rob Savage, 2023, USA/Canada)

The latest Stephen King adaptation, The Boogeyman is inspired by the story found in the author's 1978 Night Shift collection. Fans of the original story will wonder how a feature-length adaptation would be possible, given the spare nature of the original story. The film's screenplay largely takes the original story as a jumping-off point for an entirely different narrative, although there is a direct nod to the story in one of the film's critical scenes. Written in part by two of the writers on A Quiet PlaceThe Boogeyman feels less inspired by the gritty 1970s era of King's greatest stories and more by modern elevated horror - particularly The Babadook.

In the film adaptation, the figure of the Boogeyman is launched on an unsuspecting family dealing with the grief of a mother who died tragically. The grief metaphor here is a bit on the nose, but more irritating perhaps is the rules surrounding the Boogeyman itself. Oddly, the character at first appears to be a supernatural creature, but later on, we discover it is a physical being that can be hurt. The internal logic of The Boogeyman makes for a film that feels like it went through a few rewrites.

The film is stronger in its set pieces than in trying to relay a story, and Rob Savage has some skill in that regard. The performances of the main characters are also solid, though some of the supporting roles - particularly the friends of the older daughter in the family - are a bit absurd. The Boogeyman is not a bad film per se, but it is lacking the personality King brought to his stories. Other films have done this modern elevated horror style better and with more finesse. Worth seeking out for King fans and casual horror fans.



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