Tuesday, 22 October 2019

The Boogeyman Effect: A How-To Guide

The Boogeyman.  His origins are a bit of a mystery, as some sources trace the folklore back to the 16th century, while others say the legend dates back even further.  The Boogeyman is nearly universal, however, the folklore is interpreted differently across the world.

In America he is thought of as the evil that lurks under children’s beds, or in their closets.  In Latin countries, Europe, as well as parts of India and Asia, he is known as a man with a sack who kidnaps disobedient children, either to keep for awhile or to eat them for dinner.

So chances are, no matter where you are from, at some point, the Boogeyman has haunted your dreams as a child. 

Being that the Boogeyman is such an ill-defined mystery, his legend has mostly evolved from children’s fears and imaginations, leading them to the most frightening scenarios they can conceive. 

As adults we often tame our imaginations, and hide our fears away, but somewhere in our minds...in our psyche, though they may have evolved...they are still there. If you’re writing a horror story, it is your job to tap into those suppressed fears. 

There is a whole audience with those same types of fears, and if they love horror, and crave being scared...they’ll thank you for it.

So lets dive into some interpretations of how the idea of the Boogeyman can be used effectively in horror films....that is, unless you’re too scared.

1. Halloween - Michael Myers

Surely you didn’t think I was NOT going to talk about Michael Myers in a piece about the Boogeyman.  How can I not??  

In a 2005 study conducted by the Media Psychology Lab of California State University, Los Angeles on the psychological appeal of movie monsters, guess who rated the highest...that’s right, Michael Myers. 

Myers is considered to be the embodiment of pure evil.  

Now, while his character is not derived directly from ancient Boogeyman folklore, he is repeatedly referred to as the Boogeyman throughout the franchise. 

The correlation makes sense, as there is certainly a mystery and mystique when it comes to Michael...his character does not speak, nobody knows why he killed his sister or why he continues to seek out innocent teenagers in Haddonfield, or his other sister Laurie Strode for that matter. 

Add on the fact that he seemingly unkillable, brings into question what exactly he is...Human? Supernatural? Or perhaps Dr. Loomis put it best when he said Michael Myers was purely and simply...evil.

2. Sinister - Bagul (aka Buhguul, Mr. Boogie)

In the brilliant 2012 horror film Sinister, and the 2015 sequel Sinister 2, the main antagonist, Bagul, certainly seems to share more similarities with some of the traditional Boogeyman folklore, as the character in the film is an ancient, pagan Babylonian deity who consumes the souls of human children. 

However, screenwriters C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson were able to put a spin on the story that made Sinister a visually captivating, unnerving, instant horror classic.

One of the aspects that make this version of the Boogeyman story unique is that Bagul doesn’t just simply eat children….how boring.  His craving for evil goes much deeper.

He first brainwashes the children into killing their families, in horrifically gruesome fashion of course, and forcing them to record themselves doing it so he can use the films as his portal into the real world.  Makes the traditional Boogeyman seem kinda weak, huh?

The Babadook - the Babadook

If some of the main traits of the Boogeyman is to mortify children into misbehaving, being an evil entity that represents fear, and haunts children in their bedrooms at night, The Babadook may just be the closest representation in film of the Boogeyman himself.  

In the critically acclaimed 2014 horror hit, a mother attempts to calm her son’s worries about a Boogeyman type entity haunting his bedroom at night by reading him a nice bedtime story...it’s too bad that bedtime story was called The Babadook, which actually unleashes the evil entity.

What makes this variation unique is the way the Boogeyman is portaled into their world, which is through a children’s book.  And even more so is the fact that the Babadook can represent whatever your biggest fear may be...and what is scarier than that?!

These are three very different films, each at least loosely based off of the same concept.  So the lesson here is it’s all about your unique approach to a story.

The twists you create, thinking outside the box, and taking the story somewhere we haven’t yet seen may keep you from hearing “eh, we’ve already seen this movie before” when it comes time for your pitch!  Well, what are you waiting for?

Go get to writing your script!......but don’t forget to check under your bed for the Boogeyman first.

Kevin Wilde is an up and coming screenwriter, as well as a feature writer for Into The Script.

Everyday is Halloween for Kevin, as he has an unrelenting passion for all things horror. Influenced by the likes of masterminds such as John Carpenter, Stephen King, Kevin Williamson, Eli Roth, and Rob Zombie, you can certainly look forward to many horrifying tales that will have you sleeping with the lights on.

You can find Kevin on Instagram and Facebook.

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