The Boogeyman Director Reveals Inspiration Behind Stephen King Creature’s Hair-Raising Look: ‘It’s Not Pennywise’

 Sophie Thatcher looking terrified in Rob Savage's The Boogeyman
Sophie Thatcher looking terrified in Rob Savage's The Boogeyman

When it comes to Stephen King adaptations, we all know it’s a tough nut to crack–see our ranking his best movies. Translating his chilling tales to the big screen requires a delicate touch and a keen understanding of what makes his work so darn captivating. Let’s face it; not every attempt has hit the mark. We’ve seen our fair share of horror duds that couldn’t live up to the scares we imagined while reading the pages of King’s novels. But fear not Constant Readers, because Rob Savage has entered the chat. The mastermind behind the blood-curdling upcoming horror movie, titled The Boogeyman has lifted the veil on the bone-chilling inspiration behind the hair-raising titular creature. According to the filmmaker, the monster couldn’t “pander,” and it’s not “Pennywise.”

The real star of any creature feature is the monster. In a recent interview with the Kingcast Podcast, Rob Savage revealed how he was struck by a particular creature from the 2017 horror film The Ritual. According to the movie maker, that movie's creature left an indelible mark on his creative psyche. Savage reached out to the creature designer of that project, Keith Thompson, and brought him on board to tackle the challenge that was encapsulating the essence of the Boogeyman. He told the show's hosts:

It was this movie, The Ritual, that I saw… incredible creature… he came up with this aspect of the design that is so perfect and disturbing. And then the guys at Folks, who were our VFX company, finished it off. Really the brief was: this is the Boogeyman. Everyone’s got their own idea of what this thing looks like. That word, “The Boogeyman,” is just the word we put on this thing as kids. It’s the first word that we reach for, but we gotta imagine this creature being primordial. Like, I kind of painted this picture for the designers that this thing has to feel like it’s at home stalking the dark caves as cavemen sort of huddle around the fire. It's been around as long as darkness. It’s a kind of fundamental evil that exists in the world.

Savage wanted his movie Monster to tap into our primal fears. He painted a vivid picture of a creature that had roamed the shadows since ancient times, lurking in the depths of caves while cavemen gathered around their flickering fires. This was no ordinary monster; it was weathered and worn, far removed from the realm of pantomime villains like Pennywise. While The Dancing Clown may be one of the best horror villains of all time, unlike the IT  baddy who merely reflects his victims' fears, Savage sought to create a true embodiment of terror. His team's creation had to evoke genuine fear, not just pander to it. In his own words, he explained:

It’s gotta feel weathered and battered and not like some kind of pantomime creature. You know, it’s not Pennywise. It's not something that is kind of like pandering to your fear. This is where fear comes from. It has to feel ancient and also kind of so simple you could draw it in crayon as a child, and it would make sense. So they were delivering these incredibly detailed life-like sketches and also crayon drawings because it had to exist as both.

Renowned creature designer Keith Thompson, celebrated for his contributions to Guillermo del Toro's films and the 2022 Hellraiser reboot, was more than up to the challenge of bringing the filmmaker's monster vision to life. Their collaboration has garnered promising early reactions for The Boogeyman, which functions as both an adaptation and a sequel to the short story originally published in his collection, Night Shift. While it may not be considered one of the best horror movies of all time, it received a solid 4 out of 5 stars from CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg. It's clear that The Boogeyman is poised to kick off the summer with a scream.

The film follows high school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister, Sawyer, who are still grappling with the recent loss of their mother. Their father, Will, a therapist dealing with his own pain, provides little support. However, when an unexpected and desperate patient arrives at their home seeking help, he unknowingly unleashes a horrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and thrives on their suffering.

Starring a genuinely terrifying creature and a talented ensemble cast including Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, Marin Ireland, David Dastmalchian, and LisaGay Hamilton, The Boogeyman will hit theaters this Friday, June 2. Also, be sure to visit our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide for updates on other exciting King adaptations and related projects in development.