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‘The Boogeyman’ Will Make You Sleep With the Lights On

4/5 flickering candles

Sawyer and Sadie in the Boogeyman

As a genre, horror movies love to revisit stories and ideas we know and have always been terrified of. Director Rob Savage’s The Boogeyman is a new take on an iconic terror that will leave you rushing into your home and turning all the lights on as quickly as possible. Often, horror movies think that they have to reinvent the wheel to keep audiences engaged but Savage’s take on the Stephen King classic reminds us that sometimes, the things we can’t see are still the most frightening things out there.

The story of the Boogeyman is one that kids have feared for years. It’s the creature who is hiding in the shadows of their room, under the bed, or in the closet that you cannot always see. What makes the King story and now this version of it so addictive is that the fear that runs deep in the minds of children is real and it is all because adults refuse to listen.

Granted, this is what I got while looking through my bangs that movie because I was absolutely terrified of it, which is not typically the case with me and horror movies. It helps that the movie is centered around two sisters coping with the death of their mother and serving as the heart of the story.

Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian), a character from the original short story, is back in Savage’s version. This time, he’s a man who lost his children to the Boogeyman and is left grieving their death and goes to see Will Harper (Chris Messina), a therapist, for help. It’s through their session he passes along the Boogeyman.

You’re never too old to be afraid of the Boogeyman

Sawyer and Sadie in the Boogeyman
(20th Century Studios)

The minute that we see the Boogeyman start to torment Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair), the screams don’t stop. Both Sawyer and her older sister Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) are connected through their shared grief but also as the story goes on, Sadie is the only one listening to Sawyer. Their father is too lost in his own pain to care. Even when Sadie says it’s true that the Boogeyman is real, he blames other forces. And what it boils down to is listening.

It’s always the case with a Stephen King story. You think that the message is there just to frighten you. The reality is that King uses horror to highlight a bigger issue. With The Boogeyman, it’s all about how you lose your children when you stop paying attention. In this case, a literal monster comes to kill them. But it is easy to see how you can connect that to larger issues in our society. It also is still praying on our own fear of the dark.

What’s so terrifying about this story is that we’re still not really over our fear of the dark, even as adults. The number of times I run to turn lights on to keep myself from being scared? Shocking given the fact that I am an adult.

Hush now don’t you cry…

The Harper family in The Boogeyman
(20th Century Studios)

One of the aspects of The Boogeyman that really hit was the fact that the Boogeyman is a mimic. He can use the voices of loved ones that these kids want to hear to lure them into his trap so he can eat them. We saw it with Lester’s daughter at the very beginning and we see it with Sadie and Sawyer. Through a song that their mother sang to Sadie as a baby. “Too‐Ra‐Loo‐Ra‐Loo‐Ral” is a lullaby that I think many of us connect with. It’s what my dad used to sing to me as a baby and the minute this movie used it, I knew I would have been bait for the Boogeyman too.

The use of the Boogeyman mimicking those these kids love though is so warped and messed up and yet you understand why it’s the case. We’re not supposed to think anything of this and carry on with our lives after we get scared for a little while. King’s stories have always brought fear to us while reminding us all how easy it is to lose the ones we love. The Boogeyman as a film is a great adaptation of the short story we know and it brings to life that same fear of the dark we know and still have as adults.

Maybe just be prepared to sleep with your lights on for a while afterward. The Boogeyman hits theaters on June 2.

(featured image: 20th Century Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.