Imaginary Film Review

'Imaginary' - Image from YouTube
An avid writer, Trista has been contributing reviews, interviews, and articles to scenestr since 2016 and is building a career as a freelance writer.

Lionsgate and horror stalwart Blumhouse ('Insidious', 'Five Nights At Freddy’s', 'M3GAN') take the innocent concept of childhood imaginary friends and distort it in the devilishly demented new horror ‘Imaginary’.

Still nursing the wounds of her past, children’s book author/illustrator Jessica returns to her childhood home with her husband and stepdaughters, hoping to build a new life for them all. But something from Jessica’s past has lingered in the home and it does not appreciate being forgotten.

Directed by Jeff Wadlow, the film stars DeWanda Wise as Jessica, a woman whose fractured past has left her doubting her own maternal abilities. When we first meet Jessica, she is in the throes of a nightmare and the dark, unnerving imagery of the film’s opening sequence is just a taste of the horrors to come. Taegen Burns is believably sullen as Jessica’s angsty teenage stepdaughter Taylor; while Betty Buckley plays Jessica’s neighbour and former babysitter Gloria, a woman whose own secrets may hold the answers to Jessica’s past.

Young actress Pyper Braun delivers a strong performance as Jessica’s youngest stepdaughter Alice, who is drawn to an imaginary friend she calls Chauncey. Pyper also provides the eerie, often menacing voice of Chauncey (for some of the film) and her ability to switch effortlessly between Alice’s childish demeanour and the increasingly malevolent Chauncey is impressive. Michael Bekemeier is terrifying as the entity, a foreboding creature whose features go largely unseen, yet its silhouette lurking in the shadows of Jessica’s home is enough to send chills down your spine.

Expertly combining mythology and the supernatural, ‘Imaginary’ turns the beauty and unrestrained wonder of a child’s imagination into a nightmarish place where monsters roam, and one of the film’s most frightening aspects is its ability to take seemingly innocent childhood objects and imbue them with a sense of danger and malice.

Teddy bears, nightlights and even children’s drawings become sinister as the film progresses; while the use of darkness and jump scares creates a palpable tension which keeps the audience on edge as the line between the real world and Chauncey’s world blurs.

Brilliantly-crafted special effects combine with stunning costumes to bring Chauncey’s nightmarish world, ominously called the Never-Ever, to life, creating a frightening place where everything fun and beautiful is twisted and warped into unimaginable terrors.

An enjoyable film with more than one surprising twist, ‘Imaginary’ will leave viewers wondering whether the invisible friends of their childhood were really as innocent as they seemed.

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