A Stephen King story terrorizes audiences once again with Rob Savage’s The Boogeyman on Blu-ray. Based on King's very short story, the film finds a fitting way to extend the narrative to feature-length, but a repetitive over-reliance on jump scares frustratingly undercuts this scary and effective horror thriller with a great cast. Disney/20th Century delivers the film to Blu-ray with an impressive 1080 transfer and excellent audio mix to match. Worth A Look
Whether based on a short story or one of his epic tomes, Stephen King has been terrifying moviegoers for almost fifty years! From Carrie to Pet Sematary to The Mist, stories short and long alike have proved to be terrific material to sell popcorn and candy and keep butts in theater seats. Some are incredible, some not so much. Then there are the frustrating middling efforts that are on the verge of greatness with an excellent premise, and some scary setups, but ultimately fall short. That middle area is where we frustratingly find 2023's The Boogeyman.
Therapist Will Harper (Chris Messina) just lost his wife and he's doing what he can to keep going. Slowly, his daughters Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and little Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) have started to get their lives back together. But when new deeply disturbed patient Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian) stumbles in to Will's office for help, he brings with him a darkness that will infect and terrorize the Harpers. A creature that feeds on pair pain and sadness and fear. And when there’s nothing left to feed on, it kills them. It’s called… the Boogeyman!
Now, it’s not an impossible task to effectively adapt a Stephen King short story or novella. We’ve seen more than a few films over the years that take a slim piece of King’s writing and make an entire feature out of it. With The Boogeyman, director Rob Savage (director of 2020’s Host) partners with a trio of screenwriters Mark Heyman, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck to tackle extending a very short story into a viable feature film. And it’s a respectable effort. We get a family of characters we like and care about to hang our hat on. Their situation increasingly becomes dire and we’re generally fearful of what waits behind the corner in the creepy shadows of every room. Unfortunately, this film has a frustrating reliance on jump scares with a rather on-the-nose final act.
Now when I first saw this in theaters, I really liked it. I thought The Boogeyman was a pretty solid simple and to-the-point fright flick that accomplished the task of scaring an audience and getting on with its day. The characters were well-drawn and dimensional without being cardboard stand-ins but not so overdrawn that the film became a bloated mess. The creature is creepy and unnerving enough to make you dread any dark space on screen – and there’s a lot of that! While it worked well for me in theaters, I did wish it had more tricks up its sleeve - but I didn’t dwell on it. I left the theater entertained.
On home video, I’m bothered to say the second outing wasn’t as much fun. That’s mostly because having already seen it, I knew what was coming, the reliance on jump scares felt more egregious, and I didn’t feel the same repeat value. Not every horror movie holds up from the first viewing to the second; a lot of movies only have the one trick to play and there aren’t any more surprises to explore. Rob Savage smartly directed an often intense and effective scare flick, but that repetition undercuts the show for repeat viewings to make it a lasting horror classic.
Now, with my second/third viewing opinion out of the way, if you haven’t seen The Boogeyman yet and are in the mood for a good fright, definitely check it out! Turn out the lights, turn the volume up, if it’s cold outside maybe open up a window and huddle under a blanket. There’s a lot to appreciate and I can’t deny that some of the jumps are really damn good - I just wish there was a bigger variety to the scares so there was more to revisit. Not the best Stephen King adaptation, but far from the worst.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Boogeyman infects home video on Blu-ray in a single-disc Blu-ray + Digital release from Disney/20th Century. Pressed on a BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case. The disc loads to a standard Disney menu system offering a language option first before giving you the choice of either watching the film direct or punching on to the main menu.
Presented in 1080p, this is a damned good transfer but I have to admit it’s something in 4K with HDR. In addition to this disc, I was given a 4K code from Disney and for a film with such interesting use of dominant colors as well as deep blacks and a full range of creepy shadows, a 4K Blu-ray would have been amazing for this film!
That said, for physical media enthusiasts out there, this Blu-ray is no slouch. I had the 4K streaming for a bit before looking at this and I have to say for SDR 1080p it doesn’t disappoint. If anything it’s proof positive the format has legs and can deliver an effective transfer for a creepy creature feature like this. Given the nature of the film, black levels are near flawless. Often your only glimpse of the titular monster are the glints of its eyes or a limb slightly moving and the image is never so crushed you can’t appreciate those nuances. Nor is it so overly bright to immediately draw attention to itself. Part of the effectiveness of some of the scares is how it plays with what you’re seeing. Details are strong throughout without issue and colors, while on the cool side, are well-saturated giving plenty of priority for primaries with healthy human skin tones. If the streaming is a clue, a 4K release would look great on disc, but this Blu-ray is a sharp contender on its own.
Again, like the video grade, this film has a pretty effective and creepy Atmos audio track on streaming retailers but is pulled back to a still pretty damn good on its own DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. So yes right out of the gate I’ll say the Atmos was better just because of the exploitation of the height channels. This film has a damned creepy soundscape to it and that format worked better. However, this DTS-HD MA 5.1 certainly delivers some great bangs, bumps, and screams. Dialog is clean and clear without issue. The film’s ominous score by Patrick Jonsson is certainly moody and atmospheric. Rolling this with my receiver’s DTS Neural:X function helped add a little more space and atmosphere to the mix for a pretty spooky auditory experience.
Not the best Stephen King adaptation and certainly not the worst, The Boogeyman is a creepy film with a damned unsettling titular monster. But the film has a few shortcomings that some may not shine to and even for those that take to the film, its lasting appeal for multiple viewings may be limited. A solid fright flick for this spooky time of year and this Blu-ray is a respectable release. If the streaming is any indication a 4K UHD with HDR and Atmos would be fantastic, but as is, the A/V quality here is pretty impressive for the format. Enjoyable for at least one viewing, especially if you’re a King fan - Worth A Look