The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman
Original title:The Boogeyman
Director:Rob Savage
Running time:99 minutes
Release date:02 june 2023
Sadie Harper, a young high school student, and her little sister Sawyer are still reeling from the recent death of their mother. Devastated by his own grief, their father Will, a therapist by profession, offers them neither the support nor the affection they try to claim from him. When a desperate patient shows up unexpectedly at their home asking for help, he brings with him a terrifying entity that preys on families and feeds on their greatest suffering.

Mulder's Review

For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, good horror films hold an important place in our hearts, as they managed to surprise us, to make us tremble with fear for some, and even to discover young directors who would go on to become great names in today's cinema, such as David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, Peter Jackson, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, John Carpenter and others. While these films were more concerned with creating a disturbing universe with a touch of humor and a certain satire of our society, than with outrageous special effects and easy storytelling, new horror films tend to disappoint us, as they seem to be nothing more than more or less successful retreads of these landmark films. 

Yet films such as the recent Evil Dead Rising show that horror cinema still has a lot left in the tank, and can regain the strength of those seminal films that haunted the sleep of so many viewers. Le croque-mitaine (The Boogeyman), which we discovered at the Cinemacon convention and saw again a few days later at The Walt Disney Company's French headquarters, proves to be a pleasant surprise, both with its limited means and the absence of world-famous stars in its cast, but with good screenwriters seasoned in the genre and a committed director. 

The screenwriting duo of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place (2018), 65 (2023)), supported by Mark Heyman (Black Swan (2010), have succeeded in adapting a Stephen King short story first published in the March 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine (reprinted in the 1978 collection Night Shift). The story, which tackles the deepest fears of our childhood, features a monstrous creature that preys on young children. The story centers on the character of Lester Billings, a troubled man who recounts a series of harrowing events to his psychiatrist. Lester is haunted by the inexplicable death of his three young children. As Lester unravels the chilling details of these tragedies, he discovers that the real culprit could be an otherworldly force, the Boogeyman. 

 One of the strengths of this story lies in Stephen King's mastery of rhythm. He builds up the tension gradually, luring the reader into a sense of security before delivering a series of shocking twists and turns. The narrative is skilfully structured, alternating between Lester's sessions with his psychiatrist and his recollections of the horrors he has experienced. This approach maintains the reader's interest and heightens the suspense, as layers of dread are peeled back one by one. Yet The Boogeyman, while retaining some elements of this short story, goes in a different direction, creating new characters and a different plot. 

We meet Sadie Harper (Sophie Thatcher), a high-school student, and her little sister Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair), who are still scarred by the recent death of their mother. Devastated by his own grief, their father Will (Chris Messina), a therapist by profession, offers them neither the support nor the affection they try to claim from him. When a desperate patient shows up unexpectedly at their home to ask for help, he brings with him a monstrous creature (the Boogeyman) who is out to get Sawyer and Sadie. By exploring our deepest fears, The Boogeyman succeeds not only in creating a truly disquieting, minimalist atmosphere, but also, and above all, recaptures intact all the strength of the horror films of the 80s and 90s, in which great care was taken not only with the quality of the cast's performances, but also with a willingness to make viewers jump out of their seats.

Certainly, the quality of the script and the presence of director Rob Savage (Host (2020), Dashcam (2021)) mean that this film really deserves to be discovered in theaters to maximize its effectiveness. The fear of the bogeyman is a recurring theme in many films and novels, as it exploits our fear of being in the dark in an unsettling environment in which we can't find our apparent zone of tranquility. Director Rob Savage has quite simply established himself as one of the new masters of horror, and we're willing to bet that this film will succeed in frightening even the most hardened of viewers, because it never plays on the card of gore and pointless bloody effects, but on our most intimate fears of losing our loved ones and facing a supernatural force we can't fight.

The Boogeyman is certainly a pleasant surprise for those of us who appreciate the horror genre and are looking for films capable of startling us and holding our full attention without any false notes or lack of rhythm. 

The Boogeyman
Directed by Rob Savage
Screenplay by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Mark Heyman
Story by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Based on The Boogeyman by Stephen King
Produced by Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, Dan Levine
Starring Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian
Cinematography : Eli Born
Edited by Peter Gvozdas
Music by Patrick Jonsson
Production companies: 21 Laps Entertainment, NeoReel
Distributed by 20th Century Studios
Release date : May 31, 2023 (France), June 2, 2023 (United States)
Running time : 99 minutes

Seen on April 26, 2023 in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Coliseum
Reviewed on May 10, 2023 at The Walt Disney Company France headquarters

Mulder's Mark: