The Boogeyman parents guide

The Boogeyman Parent Guide

Surprisingly scary without being gory, this movie works for teens who want to try a horror flick.

Overall C+

Theaters: A family is haunted by suspicious deaths that seem to be related to a mysterious supernatural being.

Release date June 2, 2023

Violence C
Sexual Content A
Profanity C-
Substance Use D

Why is The Boogeyman rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Boogeyman PG-13 for terror, violent content, teen drug use and some strong language.

Run Time: 98 minutes

Parent Movie Review

When psychiatrist Will Harper (Chris Messina) lost his wife in a car accident, it very nearly broke him. All that kept him going was his daughters: teenage Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and her little sister, Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair). The girls are struggling with their grief, but Sawyer seems to be having the hardest time. She’s developed an intense fear of the dark, insisting that her father check under her bed for monsters and sleeping with a dozen small lights on.

Life goes on, and Will gets a new patient – or, rather, a new patient just wanders right into Will’s office. Lester (David Dastmalchian) tells a harrowing story about the deaths of his three children, for which he has been blamed, but which were really caused by a monstrous creature living in shadows, preying on children in the dark. And when Lester dies in the house, Sadie and Sawyer start seeing something in the night…

My expectations were not high, but The Boogeyman is surprisingly scary. While the rule for storytelling is “show, don’t tell”, the rule for horror films is “show as little as possible”. I don’t need to see the whole monster in the first five minutes, I don’t need eight different scenes of bloated exposition telling me all the mythology around whatever critter is picking off the locals, I don’t need anything but a vague idea that something is very, very wrong. The human imagination is a lot more potent than anything an effects team can digitally add to an old house, and this film is smart enough to milk it for all it’s worth. You don’t even see a piece of this thing for almost an hour, and it’s terrifying that way. You never know where it is…or where it isn’t. Are those little lights just reflections on the wall…or is it a pair of retroreflective eyes hovering in the darkness just past the foot of your bed?

There are, of course, the usual horror movie gimmicks to gussy up the suspense a touch. I’m not sure what the going rate for electricity is, but people in the film have a real aversion to turning on actual lights – despite facing some monster that only functions in the dark. This aversion extends to flashlights, although I couldn’t tell you why. Our heroes also live in a remarkably well soundproofed house, to the extent that I suspect you could set off a small bomb in one room, and be completely unable to hear it in the next room over.

But as PG-13 horror offerings go, this one is a doozy. With good acting, more realistic dialogue (at least, for a horror film), and a monster that plays on some of our earliest, most foundational fears, The Boogeyman is better than you might expect from its gimmicky title. With its lower rating, this is a good option for teens, especially given the low level of profanity for the genre, minimal on-screen violence, and absence of sexual content. Just make sure they’re old enough not to come running into your bed when they end up with nightmares.

Directed by Rob Savage. Starring Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, David Dastmalchian. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release June 2, 2023. Updated

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The Boogeyman
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Boogeyman rated PG-13? The Boogeyman is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for terror, violent content, teen drug use and some strong language.

Violence: There are references to death and suicide. A child is killed just out of frame. A man is seen hanging from the back of a door. There are some incidents of bullying, which involve an individual being shoved and another being slapped. A child is thrown into a television, but is largely unharmed.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are ten scatological curses, some mild curses or terms of deity, and a single sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Teen characters are briefly seen smoking marijuana.

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While this is technically an adaptation of a Stephen King story, it takes a lot of liberties with the source. Fans of the King of Horror on screen might enjoy Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, It, It Chapter Two, Doctor Sleep, The Shining, Pet Sematary (the original, not the 2019 remake), orMisery. If you’re looking for some unsettling adult horror options unrelated to Mr. King, try The Night House, Smile, or The Lodge.