Imaginary | Third Space
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Imaginary

Fear beyond Imagination
Fri 8 Mar 2024

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⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5)

Coming out only a couple of months before John Krasinski's IF (Imaginary Friend) starring Ryan Reynolds (Free Guy, Deadpool), it appears the time is right for our long-lost imaginary friends to step back into the limelight of global audiences. However, cinemagoers and parents, especially, make no mistake; Jeff Wadlow’s (Truth or Dare) latest film has an incredibly different take on the concept. Although some of the dialogue may seem intentionally cheesy, and the film can stretch on at times, it is by far some of the most fun audiences will ever have with a horror film this year.

When Jessica (DeWanda Wise) moves back into her childhood home with her family, her youngest stepdaughter, Alice (Pyper Braun), develops an eerie attachment to a stuffed bear named Chauncey, which she finds in the basement. The little girl starts playing games with the stuffed animal, which begins to be playful but eventually becomes increasingly sinister. As her stepdaughter's behaviour becomes more concerning, Jessica intervenes only to realise Chauncey is much more than the stuffed toy bear she believed to be when they found him. With the help of suspicious neighbour Gloria (Betty Buckley), Jessica must piece together the puzzle of what the little bear really is but, most of all, where he comes from. Unravelling a world beyond our own, the universe of long-lost imaginary friends.

From a production perspective, Wadlow’s latest creation doesn’t do anything groundbreaking to shift the horror genre into new territory - but it doesn’t need to. Indeed, some of the visuals towards the film's climax are inventive and suddenly take the movie in a fun and more fantastical direction. It’s here that the cinematography and production design really stand out. Unfortunately, the musical score is somewhat underwhelming and won’t linger in the audience's mind as a distinct sound. However, the licenced music, on the other hand, is suited perfectly to the sarcastic and fun direction of the film. The biggest drawback and the thing that will have audiences laughing at the film, rather than with it, is its script. Dialogue can be incredibly cheesy at times, and the ways characters act can border on satire of the genre - but it’s all designed in the good name of fun, or is it?

Imaginary takes on the immense task of nailing a particular tone. Firstly, it’s gleefully self-aware. Our protagonists crack jokes at other people's bloody demise, and some decisions involving bringing the toy bear version of Chauncey to life will make the audience laugh at how ridiculous this seems. Secondly, the way this innovative director composes a scene to set up an elaborate jump-scare is original and inventive. There are several scenes audiences will leave the theatre with, thinking just how terrifyingly fun it was to watch. Lastly, the idea of bringing our childhood imaginary friends to life in such a horrific and dreadful way is so alluring. From watching the trailer, audiences can expect that this is more than Chauncy the bear, but exploring the world of imaginary friends, where they come from, and what happens when we forget about them.

Without knowing Jeff Wadlow's true ambitions for the film, it’s impossible to tell whether sophomoric dialogue and over-the-top performances are intentional tools to have the audience laughing and rallying together about how much they enjoyed the film. However, as the credits roll and cinema lights turn back on, audiences will hold a huge smile across their faces, wanting to bring along their friends for another round of this fun, jump-scare-fueled ride—perhaps reminiscing on their own imaginary friends and where they are now.

REEL DIALOGUE: What is it about imaginations?

Imagination: the faculty of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

One of life's blessings is the gift of the imagination. Even without entertainment at our fingertips or when life moves into a state of boredom, bringing up images and thoughts allows us to survive this existence. From the limitless well of the creative process come songs, stories, and dreams, which have been part of the human experience since the beginning of time.

Some say that certain people are more imaginative than others. Still, this reality does not diminish that all mankind was given this gift. At times, it is used for less-than-redeeming results, and some minds draw from darker wells than others, but this does not minimise the power it offers. The human imagination exposes the psychological and spiritual aspects of life, which can only be attributed to God.

The question is, what are you doing with your imagination? Is it to honour the one who has given you this gift?

‘And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.’ Genesis 11:6

'Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.' Philippians 4:8

If you would like to discuss the topics of this film reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat with you about this and more.

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