‘The Boogeyman’ Review: One Of Stephen King’s Scariest Stories Finally Gets An Adaptation

the boogeyman 568x320 - 'The Boogeyman' Review: One Of Stephen King's Scariest Stories Finally Gets An Adaptation

The Boogyeman by Stephen King is one of the masters of horror’s most beloved short stories. Made famous by its addition to the Night Shift collection, the early King work is loved for its simplicity and for being downright terrifying. Director Rob Savage’s (Host and Dashcam) big-budget adaptation of the short eliminates the simplicity and scares in favor of poorly executed allusions to trauma and a handful of ineffective party tricks that are anything but horrifying.

Using the few pages of source material as a catalyst for the rest of the action, Savage’s The Boogeyman meanders with a crew of uninteresting characters who seem bothered to be involved. The new lead character is assigned to Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets), who plays Sadie, a high schooler who is grieving her recently deceased mother with her little sister and psychiatrist father, played by Chris Messina (Sharp Objects).

The brutally unoriginal setup of a young family suffering loss and left emotionally vulnerable to vague supernatural forces has been seen so many times before that it’s no longer a trope. It’s a full-blown cliche. The titular antagonist of The Boogeyman is introduced into the world of our lead characters by a previous victim, who, in short, passes on the trauma to a new set of unsuspecting depressive hosts.

Just last year, Parker Finn’s Smile took a radically similar setup and managed to turn it into an effectively terrifying good time. The arguably socially irresponsible metaphor of grief and trauma becoming personified into a creature of who eliminates victims leaving traces of self-harm in its shadow was not the most original concept, even with Smile. We have seen this horror formula previously with The Ring, Sinister, The Babadook, and others. Each of these examples carried three times the weight of The Boogeyman, especially in the cases of the archetypal Boogeymen (Smile, The Babadook, and Sinister).

The greatest disappointment here is the lack of scares. Savage has quickly earned a reputation for crafting tight and scary found-footage adventures. In fact, the director’s debut feature Host is currently crowned as the scariest movie of all time, according to an updated scientific study. Savage’s second feature Dashcam is ranked as the eighth scariest movie ever, according to the same study. Say what you will about these previous films; they both manage to evoke near-constant intensity. The Boogyeman, however, does not. Even the heavily marketed lamp scare turned out half-hearted and ineffective in the final product.

And speaking of cliches. The ‘it-can-only-get-you-in-the-dark’ trope lost its luster back in the early 2000s with poorly executed but fun nostalgia fuel like Wes Craven Presents They and Darkness Falls. Now it just reeks of lazy writing, which the screenplay here by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, and Mark Heyman is constantly guilty of. This team of promising talent received one of the simplest and scariest stories of the 20th century and turned it into something messy, boring, and plainly speaking, just not frightening. And I haven’t even begun to mention the cheesy and unoriginal monster design for the title character.

At the end of the day, The Boogeyman is more than just a disappointment. It’s a completely missed opportunity. Do yourself a favor and read the short story if you haven’t already. It’s only eight or so pages and will leave your jaw on the ground. This adaptation, on the other hand, won’t.

  • The Boogeyman


One of Stephen King’s scariest short stories is finally adapted for the screen, but unfortunately its simplicity and scares have been replaced by tired allusions to grief and a host of uninteresting new characters.



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