Pyper Braun stars in a scene from the movie "Imaginary." (OSV News photo/Parrish Lewis, Lionsgate)

NEW YORK (OSV News) — Students of cinema interested in watching a team of Hollywood creative types work themselves into a corner from which there seems to be no escape may appreciate the prime example provided by the convoluted horror yarn “Imaginary” (Lionsgate). Moviegoers looking to be entertained, by contrast, should turn elsewhere.

Her troubled past may continue to give suburban stepmom Jessica (DeWanda Wise) nightmares, as we witness in the opening sequence. But it hasn’t prevented her from gaining success as the author and illustrator of a series of children’s books.

Jessica is also optimistic about finding personal fulfillment via her recent marriage to divorced dad Max (Tom Payne). Her ability to bond with Max’s two daughters, teen Taylor (Taegen Burns) and preteen Alice (Pyper Braun), however, remains in doubt.

Having relocated her dad, Ben (Samuel Salary), to an assisted living facility, Jessica, with the others in tow, moves back into her childhood home. This turns out to be an unwise choice, though, because the house soon becomes the scene of macabre events.

Alice develops an intense — and ultimately unhealthy — relationship with an invisible friend named Chauncey. Alice projects Chauncey’s personality onto an old teddy bear she found in the basement of her new dwelling, and the two of them engage in long conversations.

A reasonably interesting plot twist eventually follows. Yet, in its wake, director and co-writer Jeffrey Wadlow, along with his script collaborators, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland, seems unsure where to take his story next.

As a result, viewers end up in a chaotic alternate dimension inhabited by silly monsters. Our guide to the meaning of it all is supposed to be the family’s half-batty neighbor, Gloria (Betty Buckley), a scholar of the occult. But she fails to lay down any reliable trail of breadcrumbs.

Only half-heartedly explored in the first place, a theme about family harmony gets buried in the wreckage of the plot. By then the boredom inspired by Chauncey and his dark doings has long since become, well, unbearable.

The film contains momentary but intense gore, references to illegal drugs, at least one use each of profanity and rough language, a couple of milder oaths and a few crude terms. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


Scroll to Top