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Imaginary wastes it's interesting premise

Photos courtesy of Lionsgate

Lionsgate Pictures, in association with Blumhouse Productions, presents "Imaginary," directed by Jeff Wadlow. Greg Erb, Jason Oremland, and Wadlow pen the script. DeWanda Wise, Tom Payne, Taegen Burns, Pyper Braun, Veronica Falcón, and Betty Buckley make up the cast.

Following their recent marriage, renowned author Jessica (played by DeWanda Wise), along with her musician husband Max (played by Tom Payne), have relocated to her childhood home with Max's daughters, Taylor (played by Taegan Burns) and Alice (played by Pyper Bruan). While Taylor is full of teenage angst, Alice's mood improves when she discovers Jessica's teddy bear, Chauncey. However, Alice's attachment to Chauncey quickly becomes concerning when her behavior turns disturbing, and the games she plays with Chauncey become increasingly sinister. Jessica begins to realize that Chauncey is not just any ordinary stuffed bear and that there may be more to him than meets the eye.

It's never a good sign when a horror film opens up cold. Nevertheless, I wanted to give the movie a chance. Director Jeff Wadlow deserves credit for the solid first half of "Imaginary," especially considering his last three films were misfires. The creatives behind the movie had some decent ideas, and I can see what they were trying to achieve. One unexpected twist in the second half caught me off guard, and the film's third act, where a rescue mission is launched to save Alice from the imaginary world, opens up many possibilities.

The use of an imaginary friend as an evil entity within a horror film has become a common theme. However, its effectiveness hinges upon its proper execution. In the case of "Imaginary," the predictable plot falls short in creating the intended spooky atmosphere, with amateurish attempts at jump scares and overused horror tropes. Despite the reveal, the imaginary friend fails to instill fear and appears more akin to a cartoon character than a terrifying entity.

The lack of character development, aside from decent performances by DeWanda Wise, Betty Buckley, and Pyper Bruan, results in one-dimensional characters who make nonsensical decisions that only serve to advance the poorly constructed plot. The dialogue is mundane and filled with exposition that may be viewed as insulting to horror enthusiasts' intelligence.

The film's potential for success was high, as Blumhouse has produced several successful horror films in recent years and the inclusion of DeWanda Wise in a lead role. However, "Imaginary" is a mediocre addition to the production company's catalog.

Final Grade C-

"Imaginary" is in theaters now.

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