Don't Forget to Check Under the Bed | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Don't Forget to Check Under the Bed

The King of Horror returns with "The Boogeyman"

Just in case you weren't sure how much I was bullied in high school, my other deep and abiding love, aside from movies, is reading. I try to read 100+ a year (I fail more than I succeed), but a chunk of those are rereads of the man who got me into books in the first place: Stephen King. Every two years I reread his magnum opus, "The Dark Tower" series, and yearly I go back and check out his short stories again.

click to enlarge Don't Forget to Check Under the Bed
It’s not a Stephen King movie without a dimly lit family in trouble.

In fact, I've read every single Stephen King book except for one, "Lisey's Story," because I need at least one of his novels to always look forward to exploring. Also, since I'm such a King completist, I've watched all the film adaptations of his novels and short stories, including 10 "Children of the Corn" sequels and every TV series even loosely based on one of his books. That's why I've seen all of the terrible "Under the Dome" series, the entirety of the low-budget SyFy channel travesty, "Haven," and the ultimately terrible "Dead Zone" series.

The newest adaptation to hit the big screen is "The Boogeyman," based on the singularly nasty short story from the collection, "Night Shift." No spoilers, but the movie is about a therapist and his two daughters, still reeling from the loss of their wife and mother. When a patient shows up and says a shadow monster killed his children, the creature transfers its attentions onto the family and begins stalking them instead.

click to enlarge Don't Forget to Check Under the Bed
"Boogeyman" keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat.

The film version plays as a sequel to the original story (which is just about the patient telling the therapist about his kids) and has plenty of solid jump scares, but is much more interested in the dynamics of a family struggling to hold together under the weight of grief and loss. That's why King is a master: even when there are evil clowns, serial killing doppelgängers and telekinetic teenagers, it's always the humanity of the characters that keeps people coming back to his stories. It certainly isn't the endings!

"The Boogeyman" is honestly pretty mid. Director Rob Savage went bonkers with his previous horror movies, "Dashcam" and "Host," so it's a shock this is such a safe and bloodless adaptation. King's imagination is so twisted that it's hard to make a PG-13 version of one of his stories and "The Boogeyman," while containing some disturbing imagery, is nowhere near as scary as the story it's based on, let alone comparable to other King adaptations.

If I was forced to choose my Top 10 Stephen King adaptations, it would go something like this:

10) "Dolores Claiborne:" Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a mother and daughter suffering from PTSD and also maybe ghosts. A surprisingly thoughtful look at abuse for 1995.

9) "1922:" Genuinely disgusting and disturbing in equal measures, this is an American Gothic reimagining of "The Telltale Heart" with Thomas Jane playing a disturbed farmer who plots to kill his wife with his teenage son. Truly nihilistic and squirm-inducing.

8) "The Green Mile:" Tom Hanks as a kind-hearted prison guard and the dearly departed Michael Clarke Duncan as a simple-minded innocent man on death row is one of the few King adaptations that make me cry every time.

7) "The Mist:" Still one of the scariest King adaptations (especially if you watch the B&W version) with an ending so dark that King even said it was more f**ked up than anything he could write himself. Mrs. Carmody (played by the astounding Marcia Gay Harden) is one of the most despicable monsters from any King movie.

6) "Misery:" Just so iconic. A writer, his biggest fan and a sledgehammer. Unforgettable.

5) "Doctor Sleep:" Mike Flanagan actually improved upon the book with this beautifully made thriller focused on Danny Torrance (the little boy from "The Shining") all grown up and broken as a human being. Being almost murdered by your possessed dad will do that to a kid.

4) "Carrie:" For everyone who was bullied in high school, "Carrie" is the telekinetic teen covered in pig's blood that makes everyone pay at prom. Another King character that's so detailed and real that we still care for her even as she goes on a killing spree. Sissy Spacek forever.

3) "The Shawshank Redemption:" This one is medicine for my soul. "And for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free."

2) "Stand By Me:" Some of you didn't go looking for a dead body with your best friends in rural Oregon when you were 12 and it really shows.

1) "The Shining:" What else would it be? It's not a faithful adaptation of the book but it's a great damn movie.

Worst Adaptation: "Cell:" A never-worse Sam Jackson and John Cusack fight back against...cell phone zombies? Laughable.

Best King TV series: "The Outsider:" Jason Bateman vs. a shape shifting serial killer. Is there more you need?

What's your favorite Stephen King story and adaptation? With over 20 more adaptations in the works, maybe your favorite hasn't even been made yet!

The Boogeyman
Dir. Rob Savage
Grade: B
Now playing at Regal Old Mill

About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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