‘Imaginary’ Review – New Blumhouse Movie Lacks In Terror, Fun, Direction, And Most Certainly Imagination

Alice (Pyper Braun) and Chauncey go on a scavenger hunt in Imaginary (2024), Blumhouse

Imaginary (directed by Jeff Wadlow) is the latest batch of bland from the balefully banal Blumhouse bunch. The production company has spent the last two decades trying to prove to audiences that Western horror is dull, derivative, and dying.

Unfriendly bear-Imaginary
This bear is not anyone’s friend, real or imagined, in Imaginary (2024), Blumhouse

But to their credit, they’ve pretty much succeeded. With a total of 149 movies and only a few of them that are even watchable, it doesn’t require very much imagining to know where this review is heading.  

Jessica (played by DeWanda Wise) is a children’s book author/illustrator who moves back into her childhood home with her husband Max (played by The Walking Dead’s Tom Payne). Both of whom have a traumatic past involving a mentally ill loved one (Jessica’s father, and Max’s ex-wife).

Jessica is also trying to form a bond with her two stepdaughters: The stereotypically obnoxious moody teen Taylor (played by Taegen Burns), and her stereotypically younger, but more open, sister Alice. They move into the house, and Alice (played by Pyper Braun) finds an old teddy bear and claims it as an imaginary friend.

Dewanda wise-imaginary
DeWanda Wise returns home as Jessica in Imaginary (2024), Blumhouse

She names it Chauncey (which triggers dormant childhood memories within Jessica), but the friendship grows toxic as the stuffed animal becomes more needy. This gives Jessica a greater feeling of displacement with her new family. Then enters a plotline of incoherent childhood memories of her father, and an imaginary friend of her own.

The fragile domestic household is further exacerbated when the stepdaughter’s mother makes a surprise visit and attacks Jessica before the police take her away to be committed. She then escapes to her imagination (aka work) while Alice develops a stronger connection with Chauncey.

All of this somehow creates a psychic link between the two and increases the bear’s influence on both of them. That’s when the story spirals into one of confusion and poor world-building only to be made worse by the arrival of their neighbor, and Jessica’s childhood babysitter, Gloria (played by Betty Buckley) who conveniently fills in the missing pieces of her childhood.

Stay out of basement-Imaginary
Alice (Pyper Braun) should stay out of the basement in Imaginary (2024), Blumhouse

They include (get this) the revelation that Chauncey was also Jessica’s imaginary friend, that he’s responsible for her father’s madness, and also that imaginary friends are extradimensional spirits that tether themselves to children, but they seem to suffer from jealousy/abandonment issues as well.

What starts as a possessed bear horror story turns into pseudo-science fiction faster than you could say “Never Ever,” and eventually deteriorates into a medley of material that was stolen from other movies. 

If you haven’t seen the movie Coraline, then you probably won’t shake your head when they find the hidden door that leads to an underworld of imagination inhabited by long-lost children that were stolen by imaginary friends with weird eyes. Consider yourself fortunate, but don’t feel left out.

Real girl-Imaginary friend
Alice (Pyper Braun) finds Chauncey the bear in the basement in Imaginary (2024), Blumhouse

The poorly CG-ed realm of the “Never Ever” should look very familiar to anyone who has ever watched Stranger Things, The Haunted Mansion, Thirteen Ghosts, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, and/or Beetlejuice.

The movie feels like several overused tropes stitched together to make a giant stuffed monster of mediocrity that chases its audience out of the theater without a single interest in how it ends.

The dialogue is like something out of a daytime soap opera and only serves to set up the next scene. Each line was predictable and came off as unnatural. Every character stumbled through the film’s awkward pace, and most of the time they looked just as confused as I felt while watching them.

When a horror movie gets a PG-13 rating, one expects fun to replace the harsher tones – something that is possible with good writing, likable characters, clever camera tricks, and very scary images.

This movie has none of these. It’s actually a big surprise that it even got a theatrical run. There was a time when this wouldn’t have been good enough for even a direct-to-video release. It more than likely would’ve been found floating in some early morning children’s programming slot on PBS.

Imaginary dumpster fire
The house is on fire but nobody suspects the bear in Imaginary (2024), Blumhouse

If you still have any interest in seeing how Imaginary turns out, I implore you to use your imagination instead. You’ll probably think of something better than what is in theaters right now.         

NEXT: Bill Skarsgård’s Look In ‘The Crow’ Reimagining Deviates From The Original, But Does That Mean It Will Suck?




  • Eventually, the movie ended.


  • The whole thing.
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