How Stephen King’s The Boogeyman Movie Is Changing The Plot From The Short Story

Sophie Thatcher in Yellowjackets and Chris Messina in I Care A Lot
(Image credit: Showtime / Netflix)

Originally published in the magazine Cavalier before being included in the 1978 collection Night Shift, Stephen King's "The Boogeyman" is a short story that puts an emphasis on the word "short." It only has one primary location and two characters – centering on a man named Lester Billings telling a psychiatrist named Dr. Harper about the mysterious deaths of his three young children.

This in mind, it's been broadly assumed that the upcoming movie based on the horror tale would be taking some substantial liberties with the source material, and adding to it in significant ways. This has been confirmed today, as a press release announcing the start of production on the film has offered an official plot description, and from what we can tell The Boogeyman movie is most definitely going to be very different than what Stephen King originally put on the page.

Set to be made as a Hulu exclusive, The Boogeyman is being directed by Rob Savage (Host), and rather than featuring Lester Billings as its protagonist, the movie will instead be about a 16-year-old girl and her younger sister, played by Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair. They live with their father, a psychologist, and as a family they are mourning the death of their mother – but things go from bad to worse after one of their father's patients comes into their home, and seemingly brings with him an evil supernatural force.

The press release for The Boogeyman also reveals the full cast of the movie, but it doesn't mention the roles that the actors will be playing. Based on the news that dropped earlier this month, it seems like Chris Messina will be playing the father/psychologist, and David Dastmalchian, Marin Ireland, and Madison Hu are attached in supporting parts. 

This will be the first time that any of the performers have starred in a Stephen King adaptation, though Ireland has some King experience, having done the audiobooks for Sleeping Beauties (which the author co-wrote with his son, Owen King) and the newly released Gwendy's Final Task (which was co-written with Richard Chizmar).

Principal photography for The Boogeyman is now underway in New Orleans – though you shouldn't get to excited about seeing the film join the lineup of 2022 Stephen King adaptations that already includes Keith Thomas' Firestarter (which just recently launched an amazing trailer), Gary Dauberman's Salem's Lot (which has built a stacked cast), and John Lee Hancock's Mr. Harrigan's Phone (which is coming to Netflix, and also has a great ensemble). The Hulu movie doesn't have a firm release date yet, but it's been confirmed that it won't be arriving on the streaming service until 2023.

Stay tuned for more updates about the development of The Boogeyman as it continues to move through production phases, and check out our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide to learn about all of the new projects on the way based on the author's books.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.