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The Boogeyman Director Explains How Stephen King Creates Unlikable but Empathetic Characters

Stephen King is often unfairly labeled as “American horror author Stephen King.” While there is little doubt that the writer has delivered more sleepless nights than any other in history, there is much more to King’s writing than just monsters, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. There is a deep love of characters, the human way of doing things and what makes people tick. This is something that director Rob Savage is well aware of after helming the latest adaptation of a King story, The Boogeyman.

While discussing the film with MovieWeb, Savage explained how just like his previous movie Dashcam, King often includes some deeply unlikable characters, but has a way of finding a way of making audiences feel some kind of empathy for even the worst of them. Said Savage:


“I think, normally with an unlikable character, if you scratch a little bit beneath the surface you’ll find things. You’ll find a common humanity to empathize with. The idea with the character in Dashcam was that love her or loathe her, and most people loathe her, by the end of the movie, you’ve been on a ride with her and you’ve been shoulder to shoulder with a character who you would normally cross the street to avoid. And that there’s some catharsis in that, that cinema is like almost an empathy machine that forces you, like Clockwork Orange, pins your eyes open and makes you watch even as you’re spending time with characters who you know might rub you the wrong way.

And I think that that’s what I love about King, is that he always finds something deeply human in his characters. And Lester Billings from the short story [The Boogeyman] is a great example of that taste. He’s vulgar and racist, but ultimately, you empathize with him, and the story ends with him breaking down in tears and his kind of macho facade crumbling away. King knows more than anyone that underneath, when you peel it all back, we’ve got more in common than we do in our differences from each other, and that finding that common thread of humanity is what horror does so well. It reduces everyone to a base level. If you’re being chased by an axe-wielding maniac, it doesn’t really matter which side of the political persuasion you’re on. You’ve just got to kind of figure out how to get away.”

Related: The Boogeyman’s David Dastmalchian Faced Personal Demons to Star in the Stephen King Horror Movie

The Boogeyman Could Be Another Big Stephen King Hit.

20th Century Studios

A few decades ago, every Stephen King adaptation came with the expectation that it was going to be cheesy, mediocre and featuring plenty of laughable special effects. However, that time is long gone, and King’s work is delivering more now than it ever has before. Recent movies such as IT, Pet Sematary, and Doctor Sleep have delivered big box offices and plenty of positive reviews among King fans. Now The Boogeyman is being touted as one of the scariest movies in years.

Taking its story from a story of the same name in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift, The Boogeyman deals with a family in grief and the creature of childhood nightmares that feeds off it. While the movie does not follow the story to the letter, early reviews have suggested that it takes the best parts of King’s work and ramps up the scares to a whole new level. King himself emailed Savage after seeing The Boogeyman and wrote, “They’d be fu*king stupid to release this on streaming and not in cinemas.” Fortunately, The Boogeyman will creep into cinemas on June 2, and you can watch a trailer below.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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