Imaginary Review

REVIEW: Imaginary

Imaginary is the latest release from horror studio Blumhouse, it’s eighth in the space of a year. With hits like Insidious and Paranormal Activity under their belt, you’d be forgiven for expecting similar from anything Blumhouse releases. However like their most recent release Night Swim, Imaginary is about as dull and unimaginative as you can get.

The film opens with children’s author Jessica (DeWanda Wise), who is having a nightmare involving her father and being chased by a strange spider-like creature. She wakes with a start next to her husband Max (Tom Payne), who encourages her to bring forward their move back to Jessica’s childhood home, in a bid to rid her of these recurring nightmares. 

Imaginary Review

Jessica and Max and Max’s children from a previous marriage, Alice (Pyper Braun) and Taylor (Taegen Burns), arrive at Jessica’s childhood home. Jessica is keen to help her stepchildren settle in and Alice seems to warm to this, but Taylor is reluctant, stopping her sister from engaging. The next morning while Jessica is working, Alice discovers a teddy bear named Chauncey locked away behind an unusual door in the basement. She brings him upstairs and soon begins to play and talk to her new imaginary friend, spending all her time with him.

Imaginary Review

Max heads off on a tour, leaving Jessica to look after the children where she also meets a neighbour Gloria (Betty Buckley) who used to babysit Jessica as a child. Meanwhile, Alice becomes fixated on a scavenger hunt set for her by Chauncey and Taylor befriends local boy Liam (Matthew Sato), inviting him over when Jessica goes out to visit her dad who is in a local care home after going mad when she was a child. Chauncey takes a dislike to Liam, and after a further incident where Alice nearly hurts herself, it soon becomes clear to Jessica that all is not what it seems and that not only is Chauncey dangerous, he might have links to her own childhood too.

Imaginary Review

For a film with the title of Imaginary, I’ve never seen a film so dull and lacking in imagination. It’s full of tired horror tropes that we’ve seen a million times before and usually better, and the dialogue and acting are poor at best. It seems to struggle with genres too, starting off with intentions of being a horror but the final act falling somewhere within the realms of a sci-fi fantasy, and managing to pull off none of these. It’s not scary or gory in any way, and while the latter Escher-style scenes look slick, they don’t make any sense with what came before. 

Imaginary Review

This is the main problem with this entire film, the execution and how the plot plays out just don’t make any sense. The studio had a chance to pull off a horror that could’ve featured the next iconic character, like Chucky and Child’s Play (ambitious but possible). Instead, Chauncey the bear is reduced to virtually nothing, bogged down by supernatural folklore that is so ridiculous and convoluted that it’s almost laughable. The references to Bing Bong from Inside Out don’t exactly help either. There is one scene with Chauncey that was actually quite creepy and verging on scary, but this is the only high point that is sadly lost in all the lameness. 

The visuals and the effects are pretty dull and tired, and aside from the aforementioned Escher-style design later on, there’s nothing memorable. Oh except for the opening credits which feature what is meant to be childhood videos of Jessica but is obviously a poor attempt at putting a filter over the video to make it look old. Somehow these opening credits annoyed me more than anything else as it just seemed so lazy. 

This just sums up Imaginary as a whole – a tired, lazy attempt at a horror that fails in every way. Which is a shame as the initial idea behind Chauncey could’ve been a thing of nightmares.

Where to Watch

Imaginary | March 8, 2024 (United Kingdom) 4.7


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