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Movie Review: ‘The Boogeyman’ – Catholic Review

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Around the time of Watergate, a little-known young author published a short story that played on some of children’s stereotypical fears. About a decade later, his story became a 28-minute film directed and co-written by Jeff Schiro.

Forty years after that adaptation, director Rob Savage’s feature version of horror master Stephen King’s yarn arrives as above-average chiller “The Boogeyman” (20th Century). While certainly not suitable for those who still need reassurance while hiding out at night, the film is understated enough to possibly be acceptable to older teens.

Recently widowed in a car accident, psychiatrist Will Harper (Chris Messina) struggles to cope with his sudden loss. The same goes for his daughters, Sadie (Sophie Thatcher), 16, and Sawyer, 10 (Vivien Lyra Blair).

As he pursues his career, Will is visited by a struggling patient, Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian), who has a gruesome personal story to tell. All three of his children, Lester tells Will, died under mysterious circumstances, and he’s convinced the evil title monster was responsible.

Will is, of course, inclined to dismiss this notion as nothing more than the product of an unhealthy mind. But in the wake of Lester’s visit, strange things begin to happen in his own home, with increasingly disturbing results.

As King aficionados will recognize, this plot deviates significantly from that of its source material. Since the print version takes place entirely in Will’s office, some form of cinematic opening was probably a necessity.

Catholic viewers as well as fans of classic movies will note that, while comforting Sawyer, Sadie sings him the lullaby “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” and the song also returns in later scenes. This tune from James Royce Shannon’s early 20th-century Tin Pan Alley figured significantly, of course, in 1944’s 1944 “Going My Way” mix of clergy-themed music, comedy and drama.

Luckily, for all the threat currently on screen, there isn’t a knife-wielding or shotgun-wielding maniac in sight. Instead, Savage’s relatively subtle approach involves dark closets, faintly heard noises, and characters that rely heavily on nightlights.

Along with this reserve set-up, the proceedings also benefit from the believable human dynamics of the haunted clan. The grief has not only made Will uncommunicative, it has left him reluctant or unable to give Sadie enough attention as she navigates her teenage years – let alone Sawyer’s seemingly irrational and childish fears about of an unwanted visitor in his room.

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’ script avoids all but minimal bloodshed while facilitating off-color dialogue. Therefore, some parents may be inclined to interpret the advice below liberally.

The film contains stylized but briefly disturbing violence, gruesome visions, fleeting scatological humor, a few instances each of profanity, milder swearing and coarse language, coarse expression, and several coarse terms. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents are strongly cautioned. Some content may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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