“The Boogeyman“, the latest horror movie, not only adapts a Stephen King short story but also revisits a centuries-old piece of folklore. This common monster story, often whispered in hushed tones to frighten children, has deep roots in our cultural psyche.
Who or What is the Boogeyman?
The boogeyman is a generic monster that has been employed throughout history to caution children against misbehavior. The creature goes by various names, including “bogeyman,” “bugabear,” and “bugaboo.” Different cultures and even groups or families within a culture have diverse conceptions of the boogeyman. Generally, it’s perceived as a monster that threatens individuals (usually children) who misbehave, intimidating them into adhering to good behavior.
Is the Boogeyman More Than a Myth?
While the boogeyman is not a real entity, most cultures entertain some version of the boogeyman myth under different names. The actual term “boogeyman” likely originated in the 19th century, but the lore of such monsters predates that era. Similar to many other mythic creatures, the boogeyman evolved as part of cultural practices intended to teach children lessons about good behavior, respect for authority, and safety.
The Face of Fear: What Does the Boogeyman Look Like?
Given the myriad variations of the boogeyman myth, the monster’s description differs vastly across different versions. Many depict it with common “monster” traits like claws and sharp teeth. It usually assumes a humanoid form (typically male) with supernatural or animalistic features that make it haunting. Some narratives might describe the boogeyman with concealed faces or draped in a cloak or hood, enhancing its mysterious and frightening image.
Stephen King’s Take on the Boogeyman Mythos
The master of horror literature, Stephen King, unsurprisingly draws from the boogeyman mythology for his narrative. The movie “The Boogeyman”, set to hit theaters on June 2, is an adaptation of King’s 1973 short story bearing the same title.
A Brief Synopsis of Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman”
The story opens with the protagonist, Lester Billings, visiting a psychiatrist, Dr. Harper, to discuss the strange and traumatizing deaths of his children. Lester claims that his first two children died under bizarre circumstances that appeared coincidental and unrelated, with the only commonality being both of them shouted, “Boogeyman!” before being left alone, and a closet door found ajar in their rooms post their deaths.
When Lester’s wife, Rita, becomes pregnant again, they decide to move, hoping to escape their past. However, Lester’s fear that the monster will find them resurfaces, and the narrative takes a spine-chilling turn, culminating in a major twist in the story. The film adaptation presents a fresh angle to the story, focusing on two sisters and their recently-widowed father (a therapist) as they encounter a malevolent entity. King’s interpretation of the boogeyman lore leans towards a version of the monster causing actual harm rather than merely inducing fear, offering a unique perspective on the age-old “boogeyman” tale.