‘The Boogeyman’: One of Stephen King’s Oldest Stories Finally Gets a Feature-Film Adaptation in 2023

In 2023, Stephen King fans will see a movie inspired by a short story of King’s never before adapted as a feature film. Here is everything we know about Hulu’s The Boogeyman.

Stephen King (seen here in It: Chapter II) is no stranger to making cameos in films adapted from his stories.
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King’s short story “The Boogeyman” was first published in 1973, predating his first novel, Carrie, by more than a year. Fast forward half a century, and Hulu is planning to release a full-length movie adaptation of “The Boogeyman” in 2023. A brand new adaptation is always exciting news for fans of King, so here is everything we know so far about The Boogeyman.

The Boogeyman Trailer

The first trailer for The Boogeyman was released on January 29, 2023.

What Is The Boogeyman About?

Pet Sematary (1989)
Stephen King’s stories, like Pet Sematary (1989) seen here, often contain themes involving childhood fears.

The film from director Rob Savage (Dashcam, Host) follows a 16-year-old and her younger sister, still reeling from the death of their mother, as they’re targeted by a supernatural boogeyman, after their psychologist father has an encounter with a desperate patient in their house.

Synopsis according to Deadline

Specific plot details are under wraps, but the above story description was published by Deadline in February of 2022. Judging by what little information there is, The Boogeyman sounds like it is either a reimagining of King’s original story, or it is an extension of it.

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Maximum Overdrive (1986) was adapted from the short story “Trucks” which was published alongside “The Boogeyman” in the short-story collection Night Shift.

The short story “The Boogeyman” is about a man who tells a psychiatrist about how his three children were killed by a monstrous boogeyman who emerges from closets (for a more detailed description of the original story, see the What is Stephen King’s The Boogeyman About section below). Looking at Deadline‘s description, The Boogeyman could use the short story as a starting point, making the “desperate patient” in the movie the same as the main character from Stephen King’s story. We’ll have to wait for more details to see if that guess is true or not.

The original short story can be seen as purely supernatural, purely psychological, or a combination of both. The focus of the movie adaptation could potentially be the same. A purely supernatural interpretation might be fun, but The Boogeyman feels like a perfect story for modern horror’s tendency to incorporate themes of grief and trauma in many films. Maybe it will be something similar to how The Babadook (2014) blends its supernatural and psychological aspects. This is all speculation though, and more concrete information will be added here as it becomes available in the coming months.

Who is Making The Boogeyman?

The Crew of The Boogeyman

Host (2020)
Rob Savage rocketed in popularity in 2020 as the director of the spooky supernatural horror movie Host.

Rob Savage is the director of The Boogeyman. Savage previously directed the lockdown-era computer-screen movie Host (2020), and he followed that surprise hit with another wild computer-screen horror movie, Dashcam (2021).

The current script for The Boogeyman was written by Mark Heyman. Heyman’s previous writing credits include Black Swan (2010), one of the best horror movies of the 2010s.

A Quiet Place (2018)
The original script for The Boogeyman was adapted from Stephen King’s novel by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, two-thirds of the writing team for A Quiet Place (2018).

The Boogeyman was originally announced back in 2018, and the original version of the script was written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. At the time, the film was a production of Fox, but after Fox was bought by Disney in 2019, it was thought that The Boogeyman was one of the casualties of the changeover. With the announcement that the movie would indeed move forward, Mark Heyman was hired to write the latest draft based on the original script, with Beck and Woods, who are now executive producers for the project, receiving cowriting credits.

Akela Cooper (M3GAN, Malignant) has also been named as having written an early draft, though her name is not listed in the Writers Guild of America West credits for the screenplay.

The Cast of The Boogeyman

Sophie Thatcher in Prospect (2018)
In addition to Yellowjackets, Sophie Thatcher (on the right) also starred in the science fiction thriller Prospect (2018) with Pedro Pascal.

Character details will be added as they become available. For now, here are the main cast members announced so far.

  • Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets, 2021-2023)
  • Chris Messina (Devil, 2010)
  • David Dastmalchian (The Belko Experiment, 2016)
  • Marin Ireland (The Empty Man, 2020)
  • Vivien Lyra Blair (Bird Box, 2018)
  • Madison Hu (Voyagers, 2021)

What is Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman” About?

“The Boogeyman” is a short story that was first published in Cavalier magazine in March of 1973. The story was later published in Stephen King’s first collection of short stories, Night Shift (1978).

“The Boogeyman” was adapted into a 1982 short film from filmmaker Jeff Schiro. This was one of the shorts made as a “Dollar Baby,” and it was released on VHS as part of the video two-part anthology titled Stephen King’s Night Shift Collection.

Alert! The rest of this section contains spoilers for the short story, and potential spoilers for the upcoming movie.

As a short story, “The Boogeyman” features a simple premise, but like with most of Stephen King’s work, there is depth to the story. The plot involves a 28-year-old man, Lester Billings, who is talking to a psychiatrist, Dr. Harper. Billings begins by telling Harper that he “killed” his three children. Billings quickly clarifies, saying he didn’t physically kill his children, but that he killed them through his actions (and inactions) of leaving them alone in their room even though they each told him they were scared of something. However, if people believed that Billings did kill his kids, it would be better for him. After all, there are no closets in a jail cell…

As Billings recounts the stories of how his young children died, each successive story reveals more about a presence Billings believes attacked his kids: The Boogeyman. According to Billings, he began to suspect that some sort of closet-dwelling creature was stalking him and his family after the death of his first child. By the time his third child came along, Billings was so scared of The Boogeyman that he essentially sacrificed his own little boy to save himself. I won’t spoil the very end of the story, but as you might imagine, it doesn’t end well for Lester Billings.

In 2010, “The Boogeyman” was adapted into a short film once again by Irish filmmaker Gerard Lough.

So, the plot of “The Boogeyman” is straightforward, but the real intriguing part is in the subtext. The way Billings talks about himself, his family, and his past, it’s pretty clear he’s not a very nice person. He is also an unreliable narrator, but reading into what Billings tells Harper would lead us to believe Billings is extremely strict with his family at best, and dangerously abusive at worst. Did Billings actually kill his children and The Boogeyman is a manifestation of his guilt? It’s possible, but it’s also possible to read the story in a more supernatural rather than psychological way. Knowing how Stephen King likes to mix psychological and supernatural, a combination of both readings could be true.

When Will The Boogeyman be Released?

Creepshow (1982)
We’ve waited fifty years for an adaptation of “The Boogeyman,” so a little while longer won’t hurt.

The Boogeyman will release in theaters on June 2, 2023. After it’s theatrical window, we can probably expect it to move to streaming on the following platforms as originally planned: Hulu in the United States, Star+ in Latin America, and Disney+ in all other markets. No streaming date has been announced.

The Boogeyman is rated PG-13 for “terror, violent content, teen drug use, and some strong language.”

Meet The Author

Chris Catt

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.