The Boogeyman is one of those movies that is best seen in a dark theater with a packed audience. It is not only filled with jump scares, it delivers some lore that will mess with viewers on a psychological level as well. It is is a horror-thriller from the mind of Stephen King.

High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister Sawyer are reeling from the recent death of their mother and aren’t getting much support from their father, Will, a therapist who is dealing with his own pain. When a desperate patient unexpectedly shows up at their home seeking help, he leaves behind a terrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and feeds on the suffering of its victims.

During the Global press conference, the cast and filmmakers talk about the lore and design of the boogeyman. They also discuss the pressure of bringing a Stephen King story to the screen, with a PG-13 rating, no less.

Participating Talent:

  • Chris Messina (“Will Harper”)
  • Sophie Thatcher (“Sadie Harper”)
  • Vivien Lyra Blair (“Sawyer Harper”)
  • David Dastmalchian (“Lester Billings”)
  • Rob Savage (Director)
  • Dan Levine (Producer)
  • Dan Cohen (Producer)

Finding The Boogeyman Lore & Design

Rob Savage: The thing that I was really aware of is that we didn’t want people to leave the cinema thinking, “I’ve seen The Boogeyman. He’s not all that scary.” Obviously these guys have to fight the boogeyman at the end, so you had to show him. We had to create a creature which felt like it made room for everyone’s personal interpretation of the creature, that kind of spoke to the short story. I won’t ruin it, but the short story has a nightmarish ending.

So, we wanted to speak to that. The design was about creating something that you could glimpse in the shadows. You could just see these pinprick eyes staring out from the darkness. For most of the movie, we’re just allowing it to fester in the audience’s head. And then, when you finally see the creature, we came up with this weird, messed-up design; whereby the creature reveals itself to have dimensions beyond what we see. So, there’s still room for people’s own nightmares projected onto our creature. And yet, we’ve got this horrific design which our team came up with, which will hopefully create some new nightmares.

How Did You Get That PG-13 Rating?

Dan Levine: It’s interesting because we always thought of this as R, but we knew we had a PG-13 rating.  When I watch it, I think it’s R.  I don’t think that it plays like PG-13, but we definitely push the limit, and we thought we would get a lot more pushback on things to trim back on, but luckily, we didn’t get those calls.

Rob Savage: I thought that it was an R-rated movie until two weeks before we shot it. Nobody told me.  We just had to go through and cut out all the F-words, and everything else stayed in, miraculously.

Dan Cohen:  I think it speaks to what Rob and our cast did in that it’s a universal, accessible story. It is very scary and unnerving, but like Rob was just talking about with the creature, a lot of it is what you’re thinking might not be there, what goes bump in the night.  We talked about a couple of your more classic horror movies, and some of them aren’t actually rated R, and the experience is still just as terrifying.  So, it ends up being this achievement, I guess.  But I think it just speaks to that we wanted to make a story that felt really relatable and terrifying.  And we were able to sneak it through the system.

Rob Savage: I can’t believe we got away with it. Can you believe the opening got a PG-13?

Finding Your Characters

Sophie Thatcher: I feel like for horror, it’s really important to build empathy for the character, or else you’re not gonna want to follow them on their journey, or nothing’s gonna feel earned.  But I think for Sadie, just starting off with her, she’s in such a distinct stage of grieving and dealing with that and making it feel real, and her relationship with her father feel tense and really complicated. And how hard it is that she’s been having to take care of her younger sister. You build empathy for her early on.  And I definitely did reading it for the first time.  But just to make her grieving feel lived in and real because everybody grieves in different ways.  There’s no specific way to grieve.

Vivien Lyra Blair: I think Sawyer is this really complex character because you start the movie seeing her as this little girl who’s terrified of the dark and is just a little bit of a scaredy cat, to be honest.  And then, as you really get to see how her character grows, she’s going through so much, and no one believes her about it. She has every right to be scared.  You realize that once you start to actually see The Boogeyman. I’m trying to put this as best I can without spoilers.  But in the final, I like to call it “the boss fight in the basement,” I think Sawyer really gets to come through as this courageous, heroic little girl who goes through so much in this period of a week.  And she comes out stronger for it. It’s such an incredible character arc. She’s one of my favorite characters I’ve ever played.

Chris Messina: Rob did a great thing, which is not always the norm.  We had rehearsals, and those rehearsals were about two weeks long, and we went to the aquarium, and we went bowling. And we ate some food, and by the time we got to set, there was so much love and trust.  And we had become a family.

The Pressure Of A Stephen King Story

David Dastmalchian: Such an immense amount of pressure, definitely. The fact that you’re bringing a character to life from the imagination of the king. But also, because the place that Lester’s coming from is one of those corners of the human experience that nobody really would care to ever spend time in. And so, the challenge of even having the courage to be willing to go there was the first challenge for me. I didn’t feel like I had the capacity to embody Lester in a way that would do justice to the film that Rob was going to make.

I have a long-time friendship with Dan, who we were talking in prep for this. And I was just like, “I’m scared.” And he’s like, “Well, I want you to meet Rob and I think he’ll help you get the courage that you’ll need,” and it worked. ‘Cause Rob is not only a brilliant and visionary filmmaker, he’s got this heart that is really beautiful. So, coming from the short, which I was familiar with and really enjoyed, I always thought it was terrifying. I grew up in a part of the country with a lot of the Lesters that existed.

I wanted, and the way that the script reflected this, to bring what maybe Lester looked or moved like in a different time. ‘Cause that was probably written in the early-’80s, late-’70s, to 2022, which is when we were shooting it. I felt like there was a way I could find something that everybody watching could relate to. He has so much information to convey, and you need for the audience to relate to him and for him not be any trope. It’s weird. It’s tricky. It’s hard to talk about. But Rob was such a great guide on it. And then, Chris, as soon as I sat down with him, the energy that started going between us was so powerful. I prepared. I had a lot of thoughts and ideas going into this. But you show up, and you just throw that stuff out, and you try to be present and listen, and it was pretty awesome.

It’s terrifying, and it’s great. It’s such a thrill to get to be with people you trust, and you can throw yourselves off a cliff and know that they’re there to catch you and that they’re gonna protect you. Lester suffered. There’s mental anguish and spiritual anguish that all these characters are going through. To go to that place, just for thrills and chills, it’s not really worth it to me. I feel like there’s something deeper in this story, which is why it’s connecting so intensely with people.

And of course, you’re gonna get the crap scared out of you when you really care about people who have these incredible bonds that you can relate to. And who feel the fears that we can all relate to. Do I think that there’s maybe somebody hiding in my closet? No. Am I terrified that the things that I’ve struggled with in my life are always looming around the corner or under my bed or just down the hall, and they could pop out at any second and take me over? Of course, I am. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes?

The Boogeyman comes exclusively to theaters on June 2nd 2023

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Tessa Smith

Tessa Smith AKA Mama's Geeky, is a journalist that covers geek and Disney culture on her own website, as well as freelances for other sites such as What's On Disney Plus and Screen Rant. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Marketing and loves all things geeky. She is a Disney Vacation Club member and a Founders Circle Member of Disney+. She is also an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes and a member of the Critics Choice Association. Tessa lives in Upstate New York with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs named Sansa and Khaleesi.

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