Imaginary Review

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Imaginary Review

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

Blumhouse’s second feature of 2024 is another venture into the supernatural horror realm. This time we follow Jessica, a woman who moves back into her childhood home. She is trying to integrate into her new family and connect with her husband’s young girls. But once they arrive, one daughter meets an imaginary friend named Chauncey. What seems innocent at first quickly turns into a dark game that the family cannot get out of. Jessica must uncover her past connection with this entity and save her family before it’s too late. 

Positives:

“Imaginary” doesn’t reinvent the wheel in many regards, but I’ll admit there is fun to be had here. The premise is fairly straightforward, where a family moves into a house that has something lurking beneath the surface. I enjoyed the personal connection that Jessica has with the entity. It gives us a chance to peel back the layers and see what Chauncey’s true intentions are. The exploration into imaginary friends and how they masquerade as companions to children was interesting. This would be a scary situation for any parent as they try to protect their child from harm. But the personal connection between Jessica and Chauncey made for a nice twist that raises the stakes later in the film.

Something I enjoyed (that some may criticize) is the time taken to set up the premise. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and seeing where they fit into the story before the terror begins. This is a strength because throwing the right into the mix would feel rushed. Seeing Jessica attempting to fit into a new family helps us connect with her, setting up nice character development as the film goes on. This especially pays off when the scares take place and they have to connect to stand against the entity. In this case, slower pacing works in the film’s favor. The imaginary world that Chauncey comes from was also an interesting pivot from the rest of the film. It adds a sense of dread when our characters are asked to go there to combat him. Seeing the different entities and how they target children was unsettling. I’d be curious to see more of this world explored in a later film. 

Negatives:

Familiarity is something that brings “Imaginary” down a bit. The story structure is similar to other movies in the genre. Family moves into a house, they experience supernatural occurrences, a strange neighbor seems to know more they let on, a finale with the monster, etc…we’ve seen it all before. That’s not to say the film lacks entertainment value though. These familiar tropes are executed with enough precision where the film is worth seeing at least once. 

The weakest aspect of the film is probably the dialogue. There are segments where the script fails the cast, so having them to perform it with a straight face is asking a lot. This also ties into the dynamic with certain characters, especially the elderly neighbor. Some of her dialogue matched with the weird twist made for a poor combination. Other characters also suffer from goofy dialogue. Chauncey is created with practical effects. Normally I’d champion these efforts, but here I don’t understand the thought process. The design when he is revealed would have been more effective with some special effects or a different design. Perhaps in another film he will get a makeover.

Conclusion:

“Imaginary” is a perfectly fine horror film. Originality and scares are the weakest aspects, but there are enough nice character dynamics and interesting subplots to make it worth seeing. Teenagers and those just getting into horror would enjoy this because the PG-13 rating formats the film to be less intense. Horror aficionados may not be as drawn to this one. I’d enjoy seeing more from Chauncey the Bear with the expansive world established here. Some more scares and improved dialogue would benefit a sequel.