'The Boogeyman' Director Rob Savage on Designing A Monster That Satisfies Stephen King Fans

The Boogeyman movie Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair

Stephen King’s short story comes to life in THE BOOGEYMAN, but how do you design a creature that will satisfy fans of the short story? Director Rob Savage had that thought in mind when creating the Boogeyman for the big-screen adaptation.

The Boogeyman doesn’t come for misbehaving children in this Stephen King adaptation. Dr. Harper, a widowed psychiatrist (Chris Messina) and his grieving children (Sophie Thatcher, Vivien Lyra Blair) are haunted by a terrifying supernatural entity that lives in the dark.

Every reader has their own idea of what the horrifying creature would look like, so the task of satisfying everyone’s imagination is nearly impossible but the director says he took that into account. 

“I think the thing that I was really aware of is that we didn't want people to leave the cinema thinking, like, "I've seen The Boogeyman,” said Savage at the movie’s press conference.” He's not all that scary." And so, 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. "

So, we wanted to speak to that. And so, the design was, like, it about creating something that you could glimpse just in the shadows. You could just see these kinda pinprick eyes staring out from the darkness. You know, for most of the movie, we're just allowing it to kind of fester in the audience's head. And then, when you finally see the creature, we came up with this kind of weird, messed-up design; whereby the creature kind of reveals itself to have dimensions beyond what we see. So, there's still a kind of 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, you know, will hopefully create some new nightmares. “

The process of designing the Boogeyman was an arduous discussion so they opted for a digital creature over practical with someone in a suit.

"I mean, the thing that made me relent in the end is that we just couldn't lock into our design for the creature until very late in the day,” according to Savage.” You know, we went 'round the houses on what this creature should look like and how best to represent the Boogeyman and even what his form looks like when you finally see him at the end. And so, it kind of immediately became apparent that one, we wouldn't have enough time to build a suit. And two, the things that we had to have this creature doing, practical would be very cumbersome. It would add to our days. You know, we shot 34 days, so we didn't have a huge amount of time to be messing around with a practical suit.”

Another factor was the then 10-year-old actress Vivien Lyra Blair (Obi-Wan Kenobi) who wasn’t up to acting with a real Boogeyman which is understandable for a young actor. However, the VFX company, however, did create a 3D Boogeyman head which was covered in KY jelly for cinematographer Eli Born to shoot as a reference for the VFX artists. Blair wasn’t thrilled to work with the frightening head and asked for the old-school method.

“I didn't like the head,” said Vivien. I kept asking for the tennis ball, but Rob would be like, "No, no tennis ball." 

However, the director wasn’t done scaring the Obi-Wan Kenobi star. He recounts the story of a moment in post-production when she first saw the finalized version of the Boogeyman.
“Viv, when we were doing the ADR, I showed Viv the first scene where she sees the Boogeyman. And it freaked you out so much that you [laugh] wouldn't look at the screen for the rest of the ADR, so I had to explain what was happening.

In response, the little star says she pleaded for the black screen for the rest of the ADR session.

Will THE BOOGEYMAN scare audiences as it did the young star? We’ll find out when THE BOOGEYMAN hits movie theaters this weekend.

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