Bryan Woods and Scott Beck will continue honing their knack for the simplest but most effective of horror films.
Everybody who worked on A Quiet Place has been having an epic year so far, and screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck are no exception. The duo began their careers writing and directing indie films, although unfortunately their feature film debut, Nightlight, didn’t jazz audiences. Needless to say that A Quiet Place, which is highly lauded and has grossed $325 million worldwide, redeemed Woods and Beck in the eyes of many.
Now the writers have found their next creative venture in a Stephen King adaptation, and we all know how much of a hot commodity those have been of late. Deadline reports that Woods and Beck are bringing one of King’s short stories, “The Boogeyman,” to the big screen.
“The Boogeyman” was first published in 1973 in an issue of Cavalier magazine before being included in “Night Shift,” a compilation of King’s shorter works. The narrative’s premise centers on a father who lost all his children to a creature lurking in the closet.
The story has actually been made into several short films already, thanks to a deal that King set up in the 1980s called the “Dollar Baby,” which allowed aspiring filmmakers and theater producers to adapt his short stories for a fee of just $1. Fox’s venture will mark the first time that “The Boogeyman” will grace the big screen, however, joining the long line of films based on King’s work now in development.
In general, horror has been booming lately, and some of the best original stories now stem from the genre. Of course, the classics are constantly being remade, but innovative horror films of both the indie and mainstream variety have been plastered across screens too. In these movies, nothing has to specifically go bump in the night; that much is demonstrated in fantastic horror entries like Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge. But the indulgence in a typical jump scare now and again doesn’t necessarily lessen a horror movie’s impact, provided that these spooky elements are properly balanced out.
And that’s exactly what A Quiet Place has been rightly praised for. However, Woods and Beck, along with director John Krasinski, managed to find a very human edge in their monster-driven premise by combining the chilling and the emotional.
Right before A Quiet Place arrived in cinemas this past April, Woods and Beck contributed an article to IndieWire detailing their accidental stumble into big-budget moviemaking. The duo’s piece chronicled their process of turning an admittedly simple concept into a fantastically compelling scary movie.
A Quiet Place stemmed from an initial idea that didn’t necessarily sound very marketable; in fact, it was barely writable, with the final screenplay clocking in at 67 pages without maintaining any semblance of typical script formatting. Nevertheless, according to Woods and Beck, the film is a labor of love that draws together some of the most paradoxical cinematic inspirations. Who would have thought that combining Charlie Chaplin and M. Night Shyamalan would result in a gem of a horror film? Woods and Beck loved the cinematic purity of the silent era but grew up with films such as Alien and Jaws, and A Quiet Place finds the perfect meeting point of those disparate film categories.
What’s really relatable about A Quiet Place is how bare-bones yet powerful its conceit actually is – “if you make a sound, you die.” The simplicity inherent in its gamut is just so easily juxtaposed against the average filmgoer’s noisier everyday lives. The thought of actually having to live in complete silence is terrifying because it’s virtually undoable these days.
It’s the reason there have been a number of stories from cinema patrons who watched A Quiet Place feeling almost too scared to breathe, let alone crack open a water bottle or munch on some popcorn. These anecdotes come across as hyperbolic, but they aren’t totally unbelievable. Instead, they serve as a testament to the film’s ability to tap into an audience’s purest and most primal of fears.
The concurrent narrative about the survival of one’s offspring in A Quiet Place takes the film’s relatability to the next level. Dying becomes infinitely scarier when accountability comes into play, and the complex feelings of guilt and responsibility that wrack not only the parents but the children in the movie come from a place of universal truth. As Woods and Beck succinctly put it: “[The film] wasn’t just a fun concept. It’s a metaphor for the breakdown of family communication.”
Arguably, King’s “The Boogeyman” shares similarities with A Quiet Place in its own kind of rudimentary narrative. The short story sports several thematic elements that the film does, namely a focus on family, loss, and grief. “The Boogeyman” even has a particularly inhuman big bad too. The universality of the boogeyman myth mixed with the short story’s familial plot line truly raises the stakes, though. “The Boogeyman” may be a far cry from the convoluted possibilities of King’s long-form novels, but as a narrative from the King of Horror, nothing is as it appears.
We probably have many preconceived notions about how stories featuring childish myths will pan out, but if A Quiet Place taught us anything this year, it’s that going basic may just be the key for a highly effective scary movie. There isn’t a better duo than Woods and Beck to tackle “The Boogeyman.”