Monday, October 09, 2023

The Boogeyman, on DVD

For those who do not recognize the generic title, this Stephen King story is part of the Night Shift collection, along with the stories that inspired Children of the Corn, Chapelwaite, and Sometimes They Come Back. It has been “dollar-babied” several times, but this year it got a professional studio treatment. If nothing else, viewers will appreciate a properly hung closet door that stays shut during Rob Savage’s The Boogeyman, which releases tomorrow on DVD.

Dr. Will Harper has bad vibes about walk-in patient Lester Billings, but the man is so obviously hurting, he cannot turn him away. Unfortunately, while Harper calls the cops, Billings hangs himself in a closet, after trashing Harper’s late wife’s studio. Obviously, this will not help his daughters, teenaged Sadie and the younger Sawyer, who still struggle with their mother’s death.

Ominously, Billings’ sketches and ravings about a “boogeyman” match the nightmares Sawyer starts having. The little girl is so terrified, Sadie investigates the Billings home, where his widow, Rita claims to still battle a monster who lives in the shadows. She warns Harper if the Boogeyman knows about her family, it will start preying on them next.

Despite its King lineage, this is a pretty conventional, commonplace horror story. However, what elevates
The Boogeyman to some extent, is Savage’s super eerie execution. There are several very scary scenes of Sadie Harper stalking the Boogeyman, or vice versa, in the candlelit halls of the Billings house and her own darkened basement, which really work. However, the narrative and characters are just kind of meh.

Chris Messina’s Will Harper is one of the few Stephen King dads who isn’t an abusive drunk, but he is still woefully slow on the up-take. David Dastmalchian is terrific as Lester Billings, but you can tell from on look not to emotionally invest in his character. LisaGuy Hamilton (
the judge in Lincoln Lawyer, season one) is terrific as the Harper family analyst, Dr. Weller. (Frankly, King fans will wonder if there is an alternate ending in which she plays a different “role.”)

Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair are believably terrified as the Harper sisters and Madison Hu, Maddie Nichols, and Leeann Ross are credibly horrible as Sadie’s non-friends. Nobody was phoning it in, except maybe screenwriters Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, and Mark Heyman, who never find a way to punch-up the run-of-the-mill King story.

Given the familiarity of the elements, it is impressive how much tension and atmosphere Savage successfully renders on-screen. Based on what he did with
Boogeyman (and Host), he ought to get a crack at an A-list King property. The Boogeyman surpasses expectations, but it is still best saved for free streaming (its currently available on Hulu). Mostly for Savage and King fans, The Boogeyman releases tomorrow (10/10) on DVD and BluRay.