While it has an impressive pedigree with director Rob Savage (Host) and origins from a Stephen King short story, The Boogeyman is creepy in moments, but its lack of logic and backstory betray its better elements.
Sadly, while there are a lot of tense sequences and a few well-timed jump scares, this Boogeyman has no real point to it. Sure, two kids are trying to get over the loss of their mother, and a father attempts to pick up the reins, but it doesn’t fit together neatly enough to justify the Boogeyman’s interest in them. The Boogeyman is what it is, but it has only a few rules, which keep getting broken.
Sophie Thatcher’s teenager (Yellowjackets) is a good protagonist, bringing some weight and realism to her role. However, the fact that she continues to hang with girls at school who are incredibly mean to her is cliche and confusing. The one-note mean girl (Maddie Nichols) who is the worst of the bunch is, in fact, so mean it’s dumbfounding why anyone would be friends with her.
Chris Messina (Suicide Squad) is wasted as the grieving father who only seems to show up when it’s convenient to the plot. He also inexplicably allows a clearly disturbed man into his home psychology office after this person enters the home without invitation. But sure, “Step on in; I have an hour to spare, creepy guy.” Lastly, Vivien Lyra Blair, as the youngest daughter Sawyer (last seen as young Princess Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi), is cute and effective as the Boogeyman’s key victim.
The problem is – well, everything else. The newly widowed dad disappears for long stretches and is just simply absent when terrifying things happen in the middle of the night. Not to mention, loud scare scenes cause little to no reaction from those that should be in nearby rooms. The one rule we really know is that the Boogeyman needs the darkness to hide, so why does Sawyer choose to play a video game in a pitch-black room when she’s been the victim of the darn thing for most of the movie? At one point, a character who lights hundreds of candles in her home to stop the monster by keeping the place illuminated finds the thing simply blowing them out in a later scene. So, he just figured that part out?
The Boogeyman is kept in the shadows for most of the film, but what we see is reminiscent of many previous monster movies. Spindly legs, a combo insect/amphibian head, that sort of thing. But what it REALLY wants from our leads, how it attaches itself to them, etc., is thin at best. Or just never explained.
This is also one of those horror movies where people CLEARLY see horrific things but quickly write it off as tiredness or something equally as dumb when it is obvious that something otherworldly was in the room and attacked them. No one tells anyone anything, so the terror is extended for no logical reason.
I wanted to love this movie as it’s right up my alley, and the Boogeyman mythology has always been scary. Not to mention, Savage’s Host is one of the better horror movies to come out in recent years. Here, he truly creates some intense and frightening sequences. However, this film also has a well-produced, generic feel that needed a script that didn’t betray its rules and gave us a little more of a reason for the Boogeyman to exist in the first place. Not quite bad, but leaves a lot to be desired.