Friday, March 29, 2024

Worth Mentioning - His Brain Got Sick

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning. 

Cody checks out an unpopular new horror movie.


Blumhouse Productions has been one of the biggest names in the horror genre for several years now, but in recent months I have been seeing indications that there’s a Blumhouse backlash brewing in the horror community – and possibly at the box office, since recent releases like their new Exorcist movie, Night Swim, and Imaginary have drawn in some underwhelming numbers. I’ve seen genre fans talk like Night Swim and Imaginary are two of the worst Blumhouse movies ever made, but while they’re not mind-blowing, I have seen a lot worse Blumhouse movies than these two. Including ones that are part of a highly popular slasher franchise. 

Imaginary comes from director Jeff Wadlow, who has previously worked with Blumhouse on two other horror movies I wasn’t exactly impressed by, Truth or Dare and Fantasy Island. Both of those movies starred Lucy Hale, but apparently she missed the bus when it came time to report to the Imaginary set, because this one has DeWanda Wise in the lead. Wise plays children’s book author Jessica, who has just moved back into her childhood home with her musician husband Max (Tom Payne) – and don’t expect to see much of him, because he heads out on tour and is absent for most of the movie – and Max’s two daughters from a previous relationship, teenager Taylor (Taegen Burns) and the younger Alice (Pyper Braun). Soon after settling into the house, Alice finds a teddy bear in the basement and names it Chauncey, proceeding to interact with this bear daily like it’s a living, breathing, talking being. Her imaginary friend.

But this is a horror movie, so there’s something sinister going on here, although it has nothing to do with the previous Blumhouse production titled Sinister. Instead, it’s connected to events that took place in Jessica’s troubled childhood, but which she has wiped out of her memory. Luckily, neighbor Gloria (Betty Buckley from the original Carrie) is an expert on all of the dangers that imaginary friends might pose, and she goes ahead and drops all sorts of exposition bombs on Jessica and the two kids in her care. Gloria really came off like a terrible character, and it’s a pity that Wadlow and co-writers Greg Erb and Jason Oremland saddled Buckley with so much expository dialogue.

Imaginary is a so-so creeper with some nice twists and turns on its way to the third act, when it goes a bit wild and has a few of the characters enter another dimension. It’s sort of reminiscent of The Further from Blumhouse’s Insidious franchise, but this is the dimension of imaginary friends – and in this world, Chauncey grows into a giant, rampaging beast that made me think of the first Demonic Toys movie, where the evil teddy bear in that one also grew into a rampaging beast. But more than reminding me of Insidious and Demonic Toys, the sequence set in the imaginary friend dimension made me wistful for the days of ‘80s horror, when horror films would enter imaginative worlds in films like the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise or Hellbound: Hellraiser II. They did it better back then.

Imaginary is a bit too long at 104 minutes, it starts to feel like it’s dragging after a while, but overall I had an okay time watching it. It wasn’t great, but I’ve seen worse from Blumhouse and didn’t regret checking it out.

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