‘Formulaic horror should be left on the bookshelf,’ says reviewer after watching Stephen King’s The Boogeyman at Wisbech’s Light Cinema
THE BOOGEYMAN (15) Reviewed at The Light Cinema, Wisbech
Starring: Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian and Marin Ireland
Running time: One hour, 38 minutes Director: Rob Savage
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King and since I first picked up ‘Four Past Midnight’ back in 1990, I’ve read nearly everything I can find of his, from ‘Carrie’ right through to ‘Fairytale’.
Out of those dozens of novels, epics and short stories, there’s only a handful I don’t think are very good. And, unfortunately, out of the more than 50 that have been made into films of some sort, only a handful come close to matching the original books.
Shawshank Redemption leaps to mind, as do the more recent It movies, The Green Mile and Misery – but that’s about it. A lot of King’s best works play on your imagination as he pulls you into his world – you can’t really do that in a 98 minute film.
So why anyone would want to make a film from one of his ‘not so great’ stories? One he initially had published in a magazine in 1973 and later included in his own horror collection, 1978’s Night Shift – that no-one has really talked about since?
The fact that a big King fan such as myself couldn’t remember a thing about that story (and I have read it) wasn’t promising either. Having said all that, the start of the film was edge of your seat tense.
Psychiatrist Will Harper (Messina) and his daughters, teenager Sadie (Thatcher) and the younger Sawyer (Blair), are still reeling from the death of their mother in a road accident when desperate stranger Lester Billings (Dastmalchian) turns up for an unplanned consultation and ends up hanging himself in the closet.
Billings’ cameo is absolutely chilling and it’s a pity he is only in the movie for such a short time, as is his on-screen wife Rita (Ireland), who also puts in a star turn towards the end.
But after the visitor’s death, it all goes rather downhill for me and becomes formulaic horror as first Sawyer and then Sadie find themselves plagued by a sadistic presence in their house and struggle to get their grieving father to pay attention before.
Thatcher and Messina put in solid performances and Blair is quite outstanding, but it’s too close to the horror writers’ handbook for me. The houses are always dark,the schoolgirls are always mean and the monster cannot be defeated – until he can be.
Having said all that, there is a jump scare so sudden that I nearly kicked my son in the face. But this won’t live long in the memory and I’m looking forward to the September release of his latest novel, Holly. I already know how good that will be.
By Jeremy Ransome