The nature of the monster in "The Boogeyman" is fluid and ineffable. Any family that is haunted by grief seems to attract a shadowy, semi-intelligent closet monster that lurks in the shadows and seems to appear and vanish at will. It can imitate the voices of loved ones and offer its potential victims gentle assurances before diving in for the kill. Oh, and it wants to kill. It seems keen on eating children who are afraid of it. "The Boogeyman" was based on a 1973 short story by Stephen King, and one can easily see parallels between its central monster and the wicked clown spider from the author's 1986 novel "It."

The monster eschews light and will not approach its victims in well-lit rooms. Like its namesake, it prefers to hide in closets and under beds. When it's in your house, black mold begins to grow on the walls. Where it comes from is a mystery, and where it goes when it vanishes will never be captured by the human mind.

Because the monster from "The Boogeyman" can be anywhere in the dark, and because it seems capable of strange, eerie things, the audience watching will be constantly off-balance. It can attack at home or at the office. It follows you. So long as you are grieving, it follows you. One might be able to lure it into a trap, but who knows what would happen once it's there.

/Film's own Ben Pearson recently talked to Rob Savage, the director of "The Boogyman," and the filmmaker said that keeping the audience off-balance was most certainly the point. Savage, a horror fan himself, knows how horror fans think. It was vital to him that he stay one step ahead.

Horror Fans

Savage knows how monster movies work, and that most monsters, ghosts, vampires, etc. have to operate by their own internal logic and sets of rules. The Boogeyman certainly has its parameters, but for a large portion of the film, while the rules are still being established, it seemed like the fear could come anywhere and at any time. Savage wanted that uncertainly to inform his entire film. He said:

"I wanted to make it so that this is a film for everyone, but it's also a film for horror fans, and I wanted to make sure that anytime a horror fan might be getting ahead of me about where the scares are coming from, we had some way of blindsiding them. I wanted it to feel like even in the drama scenes, the daytime scenes, they weren't free to check their phones or make a cup of tea — that something might be coming to get them."

It seems for a while that the protagonists' home might be haunted. A teenage girl (Sophie Thatcher), her little sister (Vivien Lyra Blair), and their dad (Chris Messina) are all mourning the recent loss of the family matriarch when the Boogeyman begins appearing. It was brought into the house by one of dad's patients — he's a shrink — and the monster seems to have found a new home. Does it like the house, or its mere proximity to human minds? It still seems to be moving from home to home, though. Can it teleport? Are there several monsters? All of these questions leave the audience appropriately uneasy.

This Is PG-13?

One might be surprised to learn that "The Boogeyman" is rated PG-13, an odd fact given that the film opens with an incredibly brutal murder. A young child, still sleeping in a crib, sees something in its closet. A mysterious voice implores the child that they go back to sleep. Then something — something heavy and evil — stalks toward the child and … well, if you are senitive to image of children being harmed in movies, it may be best to avert your eyes.

Savage was astonished that, after showing it to the rating board, his opening scene was left in the film. He said:

"The opening of the movie is quite intense and quite hard, and I wanted to set out from the very beginning that this was a movie where nobody was safe, including and especially children, this being the boogeyman … [T]his is a PG-13 movie and we had to make sure we got that certificate, and there was a lot of back and forth on whether that was going to be able to stay in the movie as is. For some reason, I guess they must have been looking at their phones at the time, but the MPA had no problem with that opening scene and it stayed in the movie."

Savage knew that harming children and animals, especially dogs, is usually out-of-bounds, even for the most ravenous gorehounds. That he was able to incorporate such a taboo in "The Boogeyman" is kind of astonishing, merely for its audacity alone. Truly, it seems, the brakes are off.

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