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‘Imaginary’ May Be Nonsense But It Has A Strong Imagination

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There comes a time in everyone’s lives when we find friendship amongst nonexistent beings or inanimate objects. It could be a stuffed animal. Or (and this is a true story) it could be an imaginary friend that you pretend to be sailor scouts with as you run around saving the city like Sailor Moon. Whatever it is, it’s what we all do as children. We develop an attachment to something that gives us comfort, that dares us to be who we are and who we want to be. And while we typically all grow out of it, no one would suspect such a friend to haunt us years later. Except, Imaginary, the newest Blumhouse Productions film directed by Jeff Wadlow would probably beg to differ.

Imaginary asks the question of how our old stuffed animals and imaginary friends feel when we grow up and leave them behind. And the answer is fairly creepy. The film centers around Jessica whose husband and two stepdaughters, Alice and Taylor, move into Jessica’s childhood home. What they don’t realize is the forgotten trauma Jessica experienced in that home and why she left in the first place. That is until Alice happens upon a teddy bear named Chauncey to whom she grows a deep attachment. However, Chauncey isn’t the innocent teddy bear he seems as the games he opts to play become increasingly dangerous. The film stars DeWanda Wise, Pyper Braun, Taegen Burns, Betty Buckley, Tom Payne, and Verónica Falcón.

Pyper Braun as Alice in “IMAGINARY”. Photo: Lionsgate/Blumhouse Productions.

Let it be known that whatever this subgenre of horror that Imaginary is a part of is one that many probably don’t take seriously. Or in some cases, they can feel more comedic than scary, but certainly not suitable for younger audiences. Imaginary is no exception to this. It is goofy, full of nonsense, and executes some of the most bizarre twists and turns. But don’t let that cute teddy bear fool you. While it’s not terrifying to look at on the outside, it’s the story behind it that’s far more intriguing and frightening, especially if you let your imagination get the best of you.

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DeWanda Wise is a face you might remember from 2022’s Jurassic World: Dominion and takes on the role of a loving stepmother with ease. We see her heart glowing with love and we also see the fear illuminate her eyes. She’s not afraid to get dirty and fight for her life, and Wise executes this perfectly. But the real star is Pyper Braun who portrays an innocent young girl while also throwing in a bit of sass for the character of Alice. Her one-liners and attitude are guaranteed to stun audiences and get us laughing in moments that feel like they should be serious. Not to mention, Braun knows exactly how to code-switch between two characters in a way that just feels unsettling.

(left to right) Teagen Burns as Taylor, DeWanda Wise as Jessica, and Pyper Braun as Alice in “IMAGINARY”. Photo: Lionsgate/Blumhouse Productions.

Frankly, it might be time for Hollywood to take more risks in the same way Imaginary does. Its story is an absolute mess, and takes you to the most unexpected places. The ending is also completely out of left field and is not what you’d expect after watching the first half of the movie. But there is no denying the potential of the world it creates. To be honest, everything we see in the final third act of the movie? That’s what I wish the entire movie was about! It’s sinister, it’s eerie, it preys on our childish dreams and fantasies. You want to be a princess forever and have tea parties? You’ve got it but…good luck getting out. Had the film taken much more time in its nearly two hour runtime on where Chauncey actually comes from, this might have made for a better movie.

But again, I can’t completely fault the movie for wanting to do so many things at once. It wants to be a horror film that makes you think an innocent looking toy is possessing a little girl. It wants to be a horror film that is also shrouded in mystery elements. And most of all, it wants to be a horror film that dives into fantasy elements and made up monsters. Imaginary may not be a well-crafted movie but it is something unique. The industry is already oversaturated with superhero movies and sequels that rehash the same stories and jokes. But movies like Imaginary pull us into a whole different world, no matter how little sense the movie might make.

Chauncey Bear in “IMAGINARY”. Photo: Lionsgate/Blumhouse Productions

So, sure. Imaginary could do with a better script. And there’s plenty of room for improvement on the story progression. There was a clear missed opportunity to focus predominantly on the third act’s entire premise through the entire movie. But then again, we wouldn’t get the odd and laughable setup that we see in the first hour of the movie. Imaginary is far from perfect and might not be the kind of movie that would build a following years later. But there are risky moves and new ideas that Hollywood and the genre of horror could take notes from. And sometimes, it’s okay to let your imagination run wild, even if it doesn’t quite make sense.

 Samosa Rating:  

Imaginary receives 2 out of 5 Samosas.

Imaginary is now playing in theaters. 
Runtime: 1h 44m

If you want even more film discussions, reviews, or just some good old recommendations, be sure to follow @samosasandpopcorn on TikTok!

Pooja Chand
Pooja Chand
Known on other platforms as Samosas and Popcorn, Pooja is a movie enthusiast topped with sprinkles of her love for TV. She can typically be found watching anything from the latest blockbuster movie to a feel good anime, and is always ready to start the discussion on movies and TV so you don't have to.

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