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Stephen King's The Boogeyman - What We Know So Far

Deadline announced in an exclusive on November 1, 2021 that 20th Century and Hulu are "moving forward" with an upcoming horror film based on (and bearing the same title as) the Stephen King short story "The Boogeyman." By no means is this the first time Hollywood has tackled the centuries-old, malevolent presence. Several films, including 1980's "The Boogey Man" and the early aughts' "Boogeyman" franchise, have directly interpreted the closet-lurking creeper, while others — including "Halloween," "Candyman," "Sinister," and "The Babadook," — have given audiences vastly different iterations of the unstoppable evil force encapsulated in a single, ominous, death-dealing being. This latest film, however, is the first time audiences will see the version of the creature Stephen King envisioned for his 1978 collection of chilling shorts titled "Night Shift."

As Deadline reports, "The Boogyman" is one of 10 of the horror master's 1978 collection to be reimagined in feature-length form, a list that includes both Fritz Kiersch and George Goldsmith's "Children of the Corn" and Tom McLoughlin's "Sometimes They Come Back," which was adapted for the screen by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. 

So, just when can audiences expect to see to this latest reimagining of King's work? Here's what we know.

When will The Boogeyman be released?

While 20th and Hulu have yet to announce a release date for the project, production on the two-hour film will begin in New Orleans this upcoming "winter/spring," (via Deadline) and that could mean a few things, or, nothing at all in terms of estimating its ultimate release. Both the production team (Dan Cohen, Shawn Levy, and Dan Levine of 21 Laps) and the director (Rob Savage, of "Host" and "Dashcam") have already been lined up, as has the writing team. According to Deadline, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods of "A Quiet Place" (who are still on as Executive Producers) worked on the original script adaptation for "The Boogeyman," along with Akela Cooper of "Malignant," but that was when the film was being developed for Fox. Currently, "Black Swan" co-writer Mark Heyman is tasked with adapting the story for the screen, and the team will "begin prep and casting quickly" to be up and running by early next year. 

Although horror films, historically, haven taken less time to move from pre-production to premiere than other genres (via Stephen Follows), streaming services and their necessarily Tetris-like approach to scheduling original releases could complicate matters, as could the fact that the film industry itself (and the rest of the world) is still navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. In a perfect world, audiences could expect to see "The Boogeyman" as early as next summer. Of course, if this were a perfect world, stories about a shadowy, murderous, supernatural man-monster wouldn't really be worth thinking about. 

Who will star in The Boogeyman?

Aside from saying that casting will begin soon, no one attached to the project has made any announcements or dropped any hints about potential cast members. If the film's current synopses is to be trusted, the team will have to cast four central characters — a father, a teenage daughter and her younger brother, and, in some form, the boogeyman himself. 

On both "Host" and "Dashcam," Savage worked with actors Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward, Seylan Baxter, Emma Louise Webb, and James Swanton. If the director follows the example of fellow horror minds like Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story") and Mike Flanagan ("Midnight Mass," "The Haunting of Hill House"), it's possible he could draw from his former casts of "regular players." If so, Webb is a prime candidate for the teen daughter, while Swanton — The Spirit from "Host" and The Parasite from "Dashcam" — could potentially fill the role of the story's legendary monster. 

As it stands, no potential cast members have been announced, so Savage fans will have to wait and see who the team will choose to help bring King's vision to life.

What is The Boogeyman about?

Based on "The Boogeyman" logline, it appears as though the writers will be taking some major liberties with Stephen King's original story. This is to be expected, since the story itself is just under twenty pages long, and revolves around one man's fifty-minute recollection of events to a psychiatrist. 

In King's twisted tale, a psychiatrist (Dr. Harper) listens as a despicable, racist, sexist, and potentially unreliable former family man, Lester Billings, recounts the story of how a closet-dwelling "boogeyman" took the life of his wife and all three of his infant children. As Billing's fantastical and paranoid confession unfolds, the reader begins to suspect that — in an inversion of the typical horror trope — it was the man himself, and not some evil entity, who killed his entire family over time. Far from being a long-suffering protagonist whom we're compelled to believe and side with despite his wild tale, King's story presents readers with an abusive father whose raving we're meant to see as little more than a false narrative constructed by his own guilt-stricken conscience. In the final lines of the story, however, King flips the script once more, and Billings watches his tormenter slither into a closet with a "Dr. Harper mask in one rotted, spade-claw hand." Readers are left to wonder whether or not their initial impulse was correct, and Billings is imagining things, or if even this unreliable, wholly unlikeable narrator might actually be telling the truth about his family's demise. 

The film's current synopsis, in contrast, references a grieving father "still reeling from the tragic death" of his wife, who is oblivious to "a sadistic presence" tormenting his teenage daughter and young son. Whether it delves into some of King's original themes and less-obvious, more existential horror remains to be seen.