20th Century

Director Rob Savage On Creating A New, Scarier Creature To Call ‘The Boogeyman’

The Boogeyman is not a new concept. In fact, by adulthood, everyone has developed their own version of what the mythological creature should look like in their head. Now, Rob Savage, director of Twentieth Century Studios new horror film The Boogeyman was extremely conscious of this. Yet he still set out to create a brand new nightmare audiences would lose sleep over.

While promoting his adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name last month, Savage revealed that he was a bit worried about designing something that audiences would not actually be afraid of. “We didn’t want people to leave the cinema thinking, ‘I’ve seen The Boogeyman. He’s not all that scary,'” he said during the film’s press conference.

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Acknowledging that audiences would have to face the creature for themselves at some point, he said that the film’s creative team “had to create a creature which felt like it made room for everyone’s personal interpretation.” He also wanted to do right by King’s short story, which ultimately reveals the creature’s ability to mimic people.

The film’s version of The Boogeyman does just that, but on top of lulling its characters into a false sense of security, it hides behind all darkness. By existing in every shadow, it becomes something so common, accessible, familiar, and truly unavoidable.

“So we wanted to speak to that,” Savage said. As a result, “The design [became] about creating something
that you could glimpse just in the shadows. You could just see these kinda pinprick eyes staring out from the darkness…allowing it to kind of fester in the audience’s head.”

He alleges that so much time and care was put into making the creature a living scare that when audiences finally see The Boogeyman in the light, “there’s still kind of room for people’s own nightmares projected onto [it].”

While the film has a lot to say about the power of grief and the importance of support at a time of mourning, Savage admits that he hopes the creature’s design is what sticks with audiences the longest. For those who believe they had already dealt with the myth as children, he hopes it “creates some new nightmares.”

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Based on a short story from King’s 1978 horror anthology titled Night Shift, the film will reportedly revolve around a 16-year-old and her younger sister, still struggling after the death of their mother, who become targeted by a supernatural boogeyman psychologist father has an encounter with a mysterious patient in their house.

Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), Sophie Thatcher (The Book of Boba Fett), Vivien Lyra Blair (Obi-Wan Kenobi), David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man), Marin Ireland (The Empty Man) and Madison Hu (Bizaardvark) star.

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) wrote the film, who worked on the screenplay along with Mark Heyman (Black Swan). Rob Savage, who helmed Shudder’s viral pandemic film Host, is the director.

The Boogeyman is in theaters now.

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