We’ve all grown up hearing stories about the Boogeyman but Rob Savage’s adaption of the Stephen King novel will truly terrify you.
Based on the horror-thriller, The Boogeyman follows Sadie Harper, a high school student, and her younger sister Sawyer as they navigate the recent death of their mother. Their father, Will, is a therapist but cannot support his children as he is processing his own pain.
Everything shifts, however, when a patient shows up at their house demanding help, leaving behind a supernatural force that feeds on the suffering of its victims.
Sounds terrifying, right? Just check out the trailer for The Boogeyman below:
Gizmodo Australia chatted to Sophie Thatcher, the young star playing Sadie, about The Boogeyman, working with Rob Savage and becoming a scream queen.
Bringing Sadie to life in The Boogeyman
I’m always interested in hearing about how actors have interpreted the roles that they play and how much of themselves they bring to their characters. This is especially true for actors in horror movies, whose characters are often deeply rooted in real-life pain, trauma and circumstances.
For Thatcher, she felt that Sadie was at a very dark place in her life.
“You meet [Sadie] at such a specific point of her grieving. She’s just lost her mother and it is a couple of weeks after. She’s very alone and all she wants is to feel that closeness with her mother and feel her mother as a friend and keep exploring and learning new things about her because now she’s gone,” Thatcher said.
“She finds that within some of her mum’s belongings and that’s a big part of her just trying to find that intimacy and connection again, she’s very just hyper fixated on that and very disconnected from her friends at school.”
Clearly, Sadie is a pretty full-on character to take on with a lot of pain and isolation. As such, I wanted to know how much Thatcher put herself into Sadie.
“I think she’s definitely a much more simplified version of me. Simplified in a way externally because I don’t think she has the outlets that I have and I think I would have been a lot more fucked if I didn’t pursue these outlets. I just would have been much more lost,” Thatcher explained.
Interestingly, Thatcher said that she found a lot of the grief she put into Sadie came from how she felt during COVID.
“I’m lucky enough to have these artistic outlets and be confident enough within expressing myself that way. I think [Sadie] lacks a lot of confidence, and so do I, so do we all, but I think she’s very much just in a point of what felt like to me the grieving that we felt, to some extent, as the younger generation during COVID,” Thatcher said.
“The grieving of all the opportunities that were to come that might not come now and the scariness of the unknown. I feel like a lot of people can connect to that. Just even within the way that Sadie dresses it reminds me of not getting out of the same outfit for days in a row because she’s in that specific point of her depression. A lot of us were in that too during COVID so I think that was a connection. Definitely.”
Part of the appeal, for me at least, of horror movies is the identifiable trauma of the characters and the ability to connect and experience their catharsis.
That’s why The Boogeyman tale has always appealed to and terrified me, because it feasts off of something all of us have; trauma. The Boogeyman becomes less of a shadowing figure in the dark and more of the darkness that’s already inside us.
Working with horror’s finest
Both King and Savage are two masters of horror, with the latter’s recent movie Host being one of the best-rated horror movies, with a 99% Rotten Tomato ranking.
That’s one reason why The Boogeyman is such an exciting film. You have King’s creative genius being adapted by an exciting horror filmmaker like Savage.
Working with Savage was, as Thatcher put it, empowering.
“He’s so passionate and he’s so enthusiastic and he knows everything about horror. Initially, that’s how we bonded. It’s not even just horror, it’s just like a deep love for movies and this feeling of a fresh outlook from him,” Thatcher said.
“So to have that fresh outlook really was empowering. It just would have felt very different if we were with jaded people, which is not too hard to come across sometimes in the industry.”
Meeting the Boogeyman
When watching a horror movie like The Boogeyman I often wonder how the actors interact with the ‘monsters’. How much is a green screen as opposed to a real object in front of them?
In my mind, I think of how Sadie Sink actually acted with Vecna in the most recent season of Stanger Things. However, Thatcher explained that it was a bit different for her.
“This is interesting, because it’s one of the hardest things as an actor when you’re doing the peak of the movie and… I’m fighting the monster and I’m looking at a silver globe and that’s fucking it,” Thatcher said laughing, “And Rob is holding it on a stick moving it around so I can have the right eyeline and of course, they’re going to change it and adapt to what I’m doing.”
“That was really hard because it felt so silly but it’s also a part of the job. It’s really just about tapping into your imagination and it’s a very specific type of acting that I think a lot of younger people have kind of mastered with having so many self tapes and acting to nothing [during COVID].”
“It’s visualising that gives you a lot of power, that’s exciting as an actor so I think I was coming from a good place within that. It’s always a luxury to have the immersion factor and have the set be real but that wasn’t the case,” Thatcher said.
By not having something physically frightening to look at when you’re acting, it would be hard to bring the level of emotion needed to convey true fear. Instead, Thatcher chose to create her own version of the Boogeyman.
“They showed me pictures of what it would look like but I almost thought it was better if I didn’t know and I created my own terrifying version of it because I think the monster changes and that’s what’s so scary about it. There’s not one specific look for it,” Thatcher explained.
What exactly did Thatcher think of? Well, it was less of a figure and more of an atmosphere.
“It’s not even that I had anything specific in mind. It felt more to me, like the embodiment and this abstract figure of everything just terrible. It for me, it felt like a blob and I think everybody has their own version of it and that’s why this story is approachable and scary. We’ve all grown up with some different version.”
“I think what they’ve created is incredible but I wasn’t too specific with how it looked, I was just very specific within how that made me feel. Whatever that darkness was.”
Thatcher is entering her scream queen era
Thatcher’s role as Natalie in Yellowjackets is nothing short of spectacular and now, being the shining star in Savage’s The Boogeyman, she is well on her way to becoming a scream queen.
Thatcher also appeared in two episodes of The Exorcist TV series amongst other horror short films, so what draws her to such intense roles?
“Growing up, I was always drawn to [horror]. I think the first movies that I felt really affected by and movies that stuck with me were horror. I grew up with 28 Days Later, I grew up with Pan’s Labyrinth and those two movies are movies that have never left me,” Thatcher said.
“I realised the impact of horror and when horror is done well and you have empathy for the character and it’s grounded, it can be really impactful. It’s exciting as an actor to play out these situations that these characters are experiencing that you’ll never get to experience. It’s like tapping into another part of your imagination, so that’s fun.”
“It’s a lot more challenging than I thought it would be but I think it’s always just been in me, that interest in the darker, grittier stories.”
A common thread between Sadie and Natalie is that they are both fighting for survival, something that Thatcher feels like she’s doing, too.
“I think all of us, no matter what, are having to survive every day, especially during COVID. I’m at such a strange age right now  and I think it’s what feels natural and what feels the most therapeutic to shoot because it feels like a release,” Thatcher explained.
“I think with playing Natalie, I look up to her in so many ways just with the way that she’s so resilient, same as Sadie. I like to play characters that I can admire but I would love to play characters that I fucking hate,” laughed Thatcher, “But it’s very much just characters that I admire and have interesting story arcs and are coming from a certain place and having to show growth and show strength.”
Being such a young connoisseur of horror, Thatcher has quite a few favourite movies that she used to draw inspiration from.
“Don’t Look Now is the movie that I watched pretty young and was the most informative for shooting The Boogeyman because it’s about a family that’s grieving and it’s so artistically done. It’s like the classiest movie ever. The Audition, because I think that’s possibly the scariest movie ever and Japanese horror is on another level that we will never get to,” Thatcher said.
If you’re a lover of horror movies, you should consider adding The Boogeyman to your list. And, while you’re there keep an eye on Sophie Thatcher because, mark my words, she is one of the rising Hollywood stars to watch.
The Boogeyman is in cinemas from June 1.