‘Imaginary’ Delivers Giggles and Jumps but Lacks Lasting Frights

imaginary movie review

Imaginary, directed by Jeff Wadlow, combines horror tropes and family drama with a lazy approach that sits comfortably in the realm of ‘dumb fun’.

The film, featuring DeWanda Wise and an unsettling stuffed bear, provides a few jump scares but ultimately settles into the predictable grooves of the genre with little attempt to break new ground. While the performances, particularly from the younger cast, add a layer of sincerity to the proceedings, they’re embroiled in a plot that feels recycled.

Imaginary explores the unsettling dynamics of a new family as they navigate past and present traumas within the walls of an ancestral home. Central to the story is the eerie relationship between the youngest stepdaughter, Alice (Pyper Braun), and a seemingly harmless stuffed bear, Chauncey, unearthed from the depths of the house. What starts as innocent child’s play morphs into a harrowing journey into the supernatural.

At its core, the film grapples with loneliness and the complexities of coping with loss, whether through death or the debilitating effects of physical and mental disabilities. The film’s exploration of imagination as an escape mechanism is its most intriguing and underdeveloped aspect. It teases the idea that fantasy can serve as a temporary shelter from pain yet suggests that facing reality, no matter how bleak leads to healthier, more enduring resolutions.

There are plenty of jump-scares as the film indulges in dumb horror fun. The movie’s reliance on established horror movie clichés detracts from its originality, making it feel like a patchwork of previously seen horror sequences rather than a fresh narrative. The main antagonist, Chauncey Bear, fails to evoke the enduring terror synonymous with recent horror icons like the Jigsaw puppet or Annabelle. While there’s an attempt to craft a unique character with Chauncey, it doesn’t fully land the chilling impact needed to secure a spot in the horror Hall of Fame.

However, there are flashes of creativity, especially in the horror character design, mixing whimsical elements with sinister undertones. Some moments are genuinely unsettling, but these are few and far between, overshadowed by less impactful attempts to scare. The incorporation of light, silly comedy provides relief from the horror elements and keeps the audience engaged, yet it also contributes to the movie’s overall lack of seriousness. While some viewers may appreciate the fun, others might find it undermines the film’s scare factor.

Imaginary is a mixed bag. It’s a horror flick that might entertain those looking for a light, unchallenging watch but will likely disappoint genre enthusiasts searching for depth and originality. It’s fun but ultimately forgettable, a movie that might make for an amusing one-time watch but doesn’t have the substance to beckon a second viewing.

Fun Fact:

Director Jeff Wadlow cited Poltergeist (1982) as an influence on this movie, “It perfectly strikes the balance between scares and this benign sense of wonder and excitement and emotion that you get when you have a family that you care about.”

Note: This review was written with the help of AI.
This isn't a movie that will linger in your thoughts long after the credits roll. However, if you're in for an undemanding scare that treads familiar ground, Imaginary might just be the fleeting diversion you're looking for.
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Loves producing content as much as consuming it. Deserted Island Movie Collection: The films of Quentin Tarantino. Best Movie Snack: Nachos.


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