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  • Lauren Johns

Blumhouse’s New Movie: I Wish It was Imaginary

By: Lauren Johns

Blumhouse’s new film, “Imaginary” directed by Jeff Wadlow is a conglomeration of

pre-existing surrealist type films: “Coraline” meets “Babadook” meets “Insidious” meets “Krampus”; (but way less entertaining). It’s a black hole of unoriginal content, much like AI itself, and more of a comedy with thriller elements than legitimate horror. 

"Imaginary" Movie Poster, credit to: IMDb

On TikTok, I came across an extremely subtle advertisement for the film, (by the creator Savanahmosss) that was creepier than the actual thing itself. The video was entirely nonsensical and therefore lacked predictability, which seems to be a foreign concept for Blumhouse these days. 

Do you remember last year’s Grimace shake trend? Unsuspecting youths would go purchase the purple glop, only to die in horrific ways, or sometimes they’d be aware of the danger of drinking the shake but would stupidly drink it anyways. I would pay to watch a movie like that. 

Hopefully my rambling has put a nail in the metaphorical coffin, this movie wasn’t scary. Maybe it’s my overconsumption of horror movies that have desensitized me, but I was never a step above mildly uneasy.

Grimace shake trend, credit to:

Following a creepy dream sequence, the movie introduced us to the main character/ stepmother Jessica (played by Dewanda Wise from “Jurassic World”), by showing a sappy montage of family scenes with an even sappier tune playing in the background. I’m aware that it was meant to be a home movie reel, but it comes off as more of an advertisement for medication (you know, people laughing in slow motion, while a sped up voice says, “symptoms include death”). I could also see it being part of the theme song for a TV sit-com like “Full House”. It was a bit lengthy, and without context, it was so absurd and abrupt. Not to mention, since when are home movies that high definition?

Aside from this eccentric intro, the film is packed full of overused horror tropes: family moves into a mysterious house, stepdaughter hates on her stepmother (for no valid reason), youngest sibling starts talking to imaginary forces, a seemingly innocent stuffed toy wreaks havoc. The irony is that these “innocent” toys are always blatantly obvious. I’ve yet to watch a film where a kid finds a toy without beady, soulless eyes, or some kind of deformity. Also what kind of kid names a stuffed bear “Chauncey”? I haven’t decided if that’s more pretentious or impressive. 

Continuing with our trope checklist, the youngest daughter, Alice (played by Pyper Braun from “Superkitties” and “Erin and Aaron”), had to meet with a child therapist. Typically, horror films have a plotline where the kid is diagnosed as mentally unstable due to a poor home environment, or common trauma, (when in reality, it’s paranormal induced). But, there was a teeny curveball here. Jessica confronts the therapist Dr. Soto (played by Verónica Falcón from “Ozark”), about the session and Dr. Soto says, “has she taken up any new hobbies…ventriloquism?” I won’t elaborate further for sake of spoilers, but it’s not the response I was expecting from all of that. Common human dialogue has left the chat.

Speaking of character dynamics, Gloria (played by Betty Buckley from “Split” and “Carrie” 1976), is a peculiar neighbor who exists solely for the purpose of playing spirit guide. Think Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) from “Insidious” but with less character depth. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to have a movie spoiled for you while you were watching said movie, here’s your chance. Gloria over-explained the lore and left us with scraps for a storyline. Have the writers ever heard of show-not-tell? Buckley’s acting skills deserve better. 

However, where Gloria did too much, other characters didn’t do nearly enough. I’m talking about Jessica’s Rockstar husband Max (played by Tom Payne from “The Walking Dead”). He was in the movie for all of two seconds until he left to go on tour with his band. Why didn’t they just make Jessica a single mother? He had as much personality as drywall.

The stereotypical angsty teenager in the film, Taylor (played by Taegen Burns from “Dumplin” and “The Gateway”), ended up in a situationship with a neighborhood boy Liam (played by Matthew Sato from “Saved by the Bell” and “High school Musical the Musical the Series”). Long story short, Liam had no story but at least he added some comedic relief with the stereotypical stoner boy personality. Although I can’t recall anything he said, so maybe it wasn’t that funny after all…

There are a few redeeming factors for this film. First off, it was better than Blumhouse’s “Night Swim”, which isn’t saying much. Next, the movie has a “unique” portal concept. Remember when I mentioned “Insidious” earlier? They took the red door and turned it into a blue glowing one. Sarcastic jokes aside, “The Never Ever” (the portal) was the movie’s greatest asset. While some may believe all the CGI was too much, I thought it gave the movie a bit more flair and intrigue. Most of the film’s plot is easily decodable, except for the kinds of things that showed up here. 

I want to say that this PG-13 thriller film is a “gateway to horror” but I deem it more as a “gateway to the exit”. Although is it too contradictory to say that I would see this again? The mediocre plot and caricature level acting was actually entertaining, like Reality TV. Be prepared to go in with zero expectations and an aftermath of regret, asking yourself: did that really just happen? Or was it all just imaginary? 



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