Imaginary Review

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The imaginary world is not for grown-ups. Well, Blumhouse’s new movie is mainly intended for youths spending time at the mall and attending sleepovers. This is further evidenced by the film’s rating of PG-13, as well as the character who keeps on mentioning Bing Bong, the imaginary companion from Inside Out (2015). Nonetheless, this does not mean that there were no adults who broke into tears over the poor hallucinated chimera in 2015. However, kids aged around five when it happened must have remembered more than everyone else because it served as a major influence for them growing up to become fanatics of Freddy Fazbear and M3GAN.

Imaginary is about evil imaginary friends; thus, it ought to be directed towards children. Nevertheless, there are chances that even others will find some value in watching it. The freshest flick from Jeff Wadlow – director of Fantasy Island and Truth or Dare – is a perfect teenage horror filled with jumpscares and adolescent pranks. In addition to being bizarrely sincere, it also has the potential of becoming one of those cult films shown at cheap theaters sometime later.

Jessica (DeWanda Wise) moves back home with her husband Max (Tom Payne), Alice (Pyper Braun), and Taylor (Taegen Burns), her two stepdaughters. From all indications, Jessica’s childhood home was where something scary ever happened including lots of creepy music and scenes. However, she doesn’t know since she just wants to be near her “happy place”. Right off the bat what happens is Alice goes downstairs and finds Chauncey a stuffed teddy bear that she names Chauncey which begins the oddnesses thing ever said on this page. As Jessica starts remembering more about her past, Chauncey lures Alice on a diabolical treasure hunt throughout their house.

One might argue that Imaginary goes over the top when a kooky neighbor (Betty Buckley) appears or that it is insane for a child psychologist (Veronica Falcón) to start working in the area immediately after one of Chauncey’s mean scavenger hunts. Nevertheless, it is all these unexpected elements that make this film truly crazy. Jessica’s husband, who belongs to a group named Burning Cats, resembles Harry Styles and Johnny Depp’s offspring. While he and Jessica are talking about Alice’s health in one scene she helps him remove some of his twelve necklaces. Their mother is in an asylum and no one knows why. At least that is what we have learned from the climax where she offhandedly uses “impale” as if it were just a word.

If you want good storytelling, you won’t get it from Imaginary. What you will get is some fun, inventive scares and performances that are all over the map. As for Sato, Matthew has failed to prove himself on set as the naughty boy neighbor of the family, while Braun gives Alice’s fluctuating emotions her absolute best shot.… However, Wise who also shares executive production credit seems to have put her very heart into this role as if she were going to be featured in another Spike Lee joint not catching her starring part here by chance at all.

Additionally, the production design of this film takes it a notch higher. This has about five extra pillows on her bed, but apart from that, the house looks like they actually live in it. The narrative is greatly influenced by Jessica’s childhood drawings; rather than having the usual grim etchings found in most horror films, the artists depict a vibrant and feminine form of art that you could imagine to be imaginative instead. Also, there are many scary beings in this movie but the most horrific is done with practical effects – killer water for CGI soaked desert.

Imaginary is silly and verbose and its conclusion abrupt, limping through its climax then ending abruptly. Somehow though, everything bad about it was also totally great. It isn’t M3GAN that proudly wore its silliness on its sleeve. Even when it doesn’t make any sense at all and spews absolute nonsense, it’s still a movie mostly played straight. Deliberate camp is good, but accidental camp is better.

Final thoughts

The so-bad-it-is-good quality has been almost perfected by Imaginary. According to conventional artistic standards this is not a good film- but as long as you are willing to accept its immature brand of scares and dumb earnestness, it is really fun to watch. Bizarro side characters make up for practical effects. If you were excited about M3GAN but felt that it was too self-conscious then check out this new Blumhouse offering at your local cinema hall!

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