There’s an old saying: No one is afraid of being alone in the dark, the fear is Not being alone in the dark. It is the Boogeyman, or boogieman, or boggieman, or boggeman… the classic shadow creature, malicious sprite, spectre that comes for you and your kids.
Omens are the telltale signs that a greater evil is ahead on our path. They start small and innocuous, something that one might not even notice until looking back on the events that had unraveled and then, and only then, do we recognize these issues as warnings. This is what happened to me on this night, and the warnings I should have heeded. Out of my abode an hour before the show, I stop to the store to appease my partner. We killed thirty minutes of boredom and then on to store number two, and the first omen. The local dollar store for fair priced snacks to munch on during the film; it’s directly across the theatre and I suspect they don’t give a shit. The first problem, my partners two favourite candies, Buncha Crunch and Reese’s Pieces, were nowhere to be seen; but like the trooper they are they kept on keeping on, and like with me settled on something they could live with.
The theatre was smashed, slammed, the lobby was stacked, and the line to get corn and pop though short was a wait. I got the large soda and medium popcorn. Omen number two, the first drink machine (it’s self-fill here) did not have original Coke, only cherry. I moved one machine over and filled with the sweet nectar of the gods and went on my way. No ice, I hears someone say, but I didn’t care. I never put ice in my soda. It comes out cold anyway. Right? Not right, it wasn’t until I was just about in theatre 3 that I realized the drink was warm. Too late, but I thought nothing of it. The fool I was.
In the theatre came the final omen, the leave now or live to regret the evening sign. My partner pointed to our seats, theirs was partially reclined, and that’s when we realized it was busted. We took the seats just next to it thinking it’s not an issue. It wasn’t, but the rest of the viewing was. Loud and boisterous spectators in the audience, some barking like dogs and flashing their phones, one gentleman went up to these disruptive people and told them to cram it and it was a whole ordeal. The person who complained shortly left and I think we should have joined him. Others tossing popcorn in the air and others still running up and down the stairs, stomping shining their lights to steal a seat, I suspect they didn’t buy tickets and were halfing a show. Ultimately a terrible viewing experience and that’s when I realized the truth in the old saying; the fear is Not being alone in the dark.
‘What does this have to do with the quality of the movie?’ and ‘how was it?’ I hear your reading (seriously get your eyes checked; I as the writer of this review should not be hearing the rough texture of your dry assed cornea scraping the screen of the device you frequent. That’s why you always have pink eye!). It was alright. It was about as good as I went in expecting, knowing it was based off a short story the writers would have to add quite a bit. Though my opinion may be clouded.
First, I must address the elephant- an elephant- in the room, particularly because I have a friend who (though I have said a few times that this is complete unrelated) has asked me if I think its going to be a good remake or as campy as the original; I wish to have it on record that this is not a remake of the 2005 movie of the same title staring Barry Watson and Bones. This has nothing to do with that moody pile of dull. This is its own original moody pile. Starring Chris Messina, Sophie Thatcher, and Vivien Blair as the family in trouble as well as David Dastmalchian (who I just found out is not the son or alter ego of Patrick Fischler. Who’d a thunk it?) as the one who brings the trouble.
Much like with most of King’s work or adaptations, this has more to do with human trauma and the effects it has on the character than the actual mystical evil being. No, this is not Pennywise, and it is not the embodiment of grief that has clouded one’s mind and tricked them into evil deeds. This is a pretty unoriginal threat.
It is the Boogeyman, or boogieman, or boggieman, or boggeman, the classic shadow creature, malicious sprite, spectre that comes for you and your kids. I will say however it’s means of feasting is pretty unique. Having seen throughout the movie that the monster is capable of blunt force trauma; killing a new born in the beginning that I jokingly remarked to my partner ‘not that’s what I call SIDS,’ to actually be declared as SIDS later on, to throwing and beating on the main cast. I just assumed that was how it hunted. But that is not how it eats, it feeds as not Patrick Fischler puts it, “by sucking the life out of it’s victim,” I thought that meant choking or suffocating (ya’know breath of life) and possibly eating the physical body. No-no-no, it’s face opens and strings of life energy flee its victim into the ghastly banshee that dwells within. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s talk plot.
The Harper family are in the midst of grief after losing the matriarch who, though the husband Will is a shrink, was the emotional glue that anchored the family. The scene opens, the families first attempts to get back to reality; Will returning to patience and the girls to school. Will’s first patient is talking about a fear of losing her girlfriend or wife, coming to the theme of grief and a sense of being alone. We follow Sadie, the eldest who is trying to get back, and we get the bully trope (sort of, frienemies really) something happens and Sadie runs home after a fight. Will shows out his second patient and that’s when the man with no plan comes in Dastmalchian who talks about losing his kids, all of them and this raises red flags, Will calls the cops, Sadie come home and Dastmalchian is found in a less happy David Carradine (is that too old a reference now?) traumatizing Sadie and boom. You got a stage-five Boogeyman on your hands.
The rest of it is a string of cliches and tropes, oddly few King trope, in the horror catalogue. You have your messed ups dreams. Check. The kid no one believes until the beginning of the third act. Check. The old crackpot that’s dealt with this putting people she just met in danger to avenge her loss. You better believe check. The weird thing is not only could I pull trope and motif from the genre but I could pull specific scene theft. At the beginning we are made aware the youngest Sawyer has a loose tooth; a bit of floss and the boogeyman behind the door later it’s ripped out of her head. Either a homage or (hopefully) an unintentional lift, the elder daughter Sadie starts an uncontrollable coughing fit that results in her pulling the floss with the missing tooth out of her maw in a scene similar to that when Rachel in the ring pulling a lock of hair from her throat.
There is also this strange line at the climax where Sadie channels her inner Arnold and claims she, “saw it bleed, they can kill it,”. They fight. Through the assistance Checovs loving mom ghost they defeat it buy burning it alive. Family therapy. They overcame the evil. Or did they? Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood. Perhaps it wasn’t the best. It was competently shot, it had atmosphere and decent acting. The tropes were grating. It made sense narratively and the “twist” ending suffers the same way It: Chapter 2 did, especially around Mikes ancient ceremony that would defeat it, the evil is an ancient entity.
Some harbinger of doom since the early days of humanity that is so effective and elusive that we only have stories that allude to its existence. So of course the beast is not dead. I may rewatch in a better environment and tweet an updated opinion but from what I could track The Boogeyman was merely alright, something to kill an hour and a half but ultimately left little impression on this viewer.