Not every corner of Stephen King’s legendary mind is worth exploring.
“Boggart,” based on a short story by King, has the same plot as most modern horror films.
- Lights blinking and fading
- CGI monsters crawling up in the dark
- Characters keep secrets to push the story forward
- Predictable things will happen in the night
What “Boogeyman” has is slick cinematography, a solid actor in “Air” Chris Messina stands out and dances powerfully of light and shadow.
We still expect more from both King and his beloved genre, especially when there are so many marketing opportunities behind the “Boogeyman”-King connection.
High school student Sadie Harper (Sophie Thatcher) is returning to school after losing her mother in a car accident. Her father Will (Messina) works as a psychologist but always hides the family’s pain of loss to himself.
Harpers suffering is about to get worse.
A sinister spirit haunts both Sadie and her sister, Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair). This terrifying monster thrives in the dark but increasingly haunts their lives in disturbing ways.
Can the family stop the monster, and is its appearance related to a separate tragedy that happened in their home?
Boggart opens with promise, from the creepy opening to the solid cinematography of director Rob Savage. It’s never bad when a star as famous as Messina is front and center, at least on paper, but young Thatcher shouldered the burden of shouldering the film.
Another effective, early scene features Will’s patient (David Dastmalchian) describing how he lost not one but three children in such a short time. Once again, Savage’s camera work highlights the menacing tone and unsettling nature of the man’s story.
We’re in for another horror treat, aren’t we?
Then, gradually, the air came out of the Boggart. Sadie’s high school team is sketchy and downright cruel – even by Mean Girl’s standards. Messina’s character is sidelined, and the holes in the usual horror movie plot reveal themselves.
The film falls into a rut, establishing a predictable pattern of creatures appearing to coincide with darkness.
Finally, we meet the explanatory character meant to pave the way for our heroes, but even her looks are disappointing.
Rob Savage harnesses Stephen King’s ability to make audiences empathize with even the most disliked character. https://t.co/RiHtA8zSrM
– Movieweb (@movieweb) May 20, 2023
What is left?
CGI is more dramatic but redundant, flashing lights, self-closing doors and other old-fashioned tricks no longer terrify us.
Sorry, but we don’t need Stephen King to tell stories like this.
There’s a hint of something important in “Boogeyman,” but the script has little interest in exploring it. When we refuse to process our pain, it leaves us open and vulnerable, and the title beast is a manifestation of that.
What a powerful theme, especially for a horror movie. The “Bossboy” was only fittingly involved in it. Instead, we get to watch the roll call of the horror movie 101.
Hit or miss: “Boggart” is neither dull nor poorly executed. It was just painfully familiar and all too predictable.