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The Student News Site of Frederick High School

Frederick Lantern

The Student News Site of Frederick High School

Frederick Lantern

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Imaginary Leaves Too Much to the Imagination

Blumhouse’s latest horror film lacks scares and substance despite a promising premise
Blumhouse Productions

Imaginary is the newest horror movie created by Jeff Wadlow, who had worked on other horror movies like 2018’s Truth and Dare and 2020’s Fantasy Island, which were also produced by Blumhouse just like this movie. Both of those movies are remembered as horror duds–the films have a 16% and 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes respectively. Unfortunately, Imaginary isn’t any better–the flick suffers from having good ideas that aren’t effectively used and boring ideas that pad most of the runtime.

Imaginary has a great premise: The protagonist is Jessica (played by DeWanda Wise), a children’s book author who is ironically not great with children–she has recently become stepmother to two girls and struggles to connect with moody teenager Taylor (played by Taegen Burns) and introverted child Alice (played by Pyper Braun). The family moves into Jessica’s childhood home, and Alice soon becomes best friends with a stuffed bear named Chauncy she finds in the house. Jessica becomes disturbed by this once she remembers that Chauncy was once her childhood best friend, and she begins to suspect the bear is more than just a regular stuffed animal.

The rest of the film is very by the numbers with its story and character. Jessica’s musician husband Max goes on tour, so Jessica has to deal with the increasing horror on her own. A kindly old neighbor reminds Jessica of her childhood friendship with the bear to get the exposition out of the way as perfunctorily as possible. Taylor invites a boy over for the scare-the-teenagers scene. Alice disappears into the imaginary realm (here called the Never Ever) with Chauncy, so a reluctant Jessica and Taylor have to get over their differences to save her.

These aren’t spoilers for the film because the film is so predictable that it spoils itself. The film is a series of the most overused horror cliches–there’s even an attack by a deranged mental patient in the form of Max’s ex-wife who wants her daughters back. Anyone who has seen Poltergeist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, The Babadook, Sinister, M3GAN, Mama, It, The Shining, Halloween 4, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot, Don’t Breathe 2, Curse of Chucky, The Black Phone, Labyrinth, The Witches, or Hocus Pocus is familiar with this plot–but unlike all of those movies, nothing interesting or memorable is done to make this movie memorable or even enjoyable.

Lionsgate Movies

The characters are just as bland as the execution with the sole exception of Alice, who becomes very unsettling as the story goes on and causes the viewer to become tense whenever she appears on the screen. It’s hard to find very good child actors, but Pyper Braun kills it onscreen. The villain is decently scary, but it would have felt more meaningful if the imaginary friend actually got to have a conversation with Jessica and talk about her anger over her abandoning it, but they barely interact in the film.

The ending was passable but half-hearted: the film tries a surprising, fake-out ending but doesn’t fully commit to it–the audience is left with the feeling that there was no point in doing it at all. Also, the imaginary world felt a little underutilized and, ironically, not very imaginative. The lack of creativity here feels like missed potential. While the backstory of the imaginary friend is an interesting idea, it is just rushed into the story and doesn’t have a chance to develop.

Another aspect that could’ve made this film better is if there were more victims of the monster–only one person dies in what the trailer sells as a blood-curdling creature feature. The monster never feels as much of a threat as it seems in the marketing. The cinematography of the movie is competent but, like the rest of the film, just okay–none of the shots were anything that stood out, but none of them were laughably bad.

Ultimately, Imaginary feels like missed potential for a movie that wasn’t given enough time to refine its ideas. I can’t recommend anybody see the movie since it’s just not that fun to watch and suffers from not capitalizing on their concept. If you are interested in the film, watch the trailer–all the best parts are there, and you’ll save yourself the price of a ticket.

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About the Contributor
Kendan Cartwright
Kendan Cartwright, Staff Writer
Kendan is a sophomore who is new to the Lantern staff. Kendan enjoys covering movies and TV shows and can often be found at Frederick's Board Game Club. When not reporting for the Lantern, they like to hang out with their family, play board games, and watch horror movies.

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