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Film: Imaginary    
Cast: DeWanda Wise, Tom Payne, Veronica Falcón, Betty Buckley, Taegen Burns, Pyper Braun, Dane DiLiegro, Alix Angelis
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Rating: 1.5/5
Runtime: 104 min.

“Imaginary” the latest horror-thriller from Blumhouse, directed by “Truth or Dare” producer Jeff Wadlow, fails to find the scares that it intended to. The plot is typical of the ‘voodoo cursed doll’ construct ( Chucky, Annabelle etc.) and uses the same old mechanics to charge up the atmosphere. But this ‘imaginary bear’ fails to inspire fear and the film becomes more exasperating than scary. 

Jessica (DeWanda Wise), a children’s book author and illustrator has a hard time bonding with her stepdaughters, the angry and angsty teen, Taylor (Taegen Burns), and the younger, more open, Alice (Pyper Braun). Jessica and her husband, Max (Tom Payne), move the family into her childhood home where Alice, troubled by the move, gives vein to an imaginary friend, Chauncey. The already fragile domestic situation becomes more brittle as a result. Alice’s bear keeps demanding increasingly alarming actions from Alice before finally taking her away on “a trip.”

The underdeveloped scripting, simplistic narrative, an overly convoluted plot, flat, unexciting visual style, and uninspired expositional dialogue combine together to make this experience rather woebegone. 

Jessica feels like an outsider in the family unit and has past childhood traumas that come back to haunt her in her adulthood. She finds her escape in the writing of children`s books. Taylor and Alice’s biological mother is committed to an institution due to mental health issues. Both girls are troubled. Taylor resorts to anger and Alice uses her imagination to cope with their own individual traumas. The psychic significance is all too clear but the narrative tries to go beyond that and that leads to chaos. The world-building and histories are thrown out in the process. “Imaginary” then moves on to mythic science fiction with the mind creating hidden doors that open into a demonic world.  

The problem with the film is that it’s a concept film dabbling in a mishmash of genres and as such fails to create enough scares. The suspense is negligible, there’s no carnage or gore to add shock value, and the pace is so belittling that it fails to get a rise out of well-intentioned fake-outs. The script, written by Wadlow, Jason Oremland, and Greg Erb is rather unremarkable. The performances by the cast are also way too ordinary to create impact. “Imaginary” lacks imagination in its purest form and is rather boring and directionless.  



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