The First ‘Imaginary’ Reviews Agree The Evil Teddy Bear Needs Life And ‘M3GAN’ Would Never

The first reviews are rolling in for Imaginary, the latest horror film from Blumhouse that centers around a murderous teddy bear. Unfortunately, the studio does not have another M3GAN on its hands.

Based on the early reactions, Imaginary is being lumped in with a more recent Blumhouse release: Night Swim. That film was roundly panned for its dull pace and tepid thrills, and Chauncey the killer teddy bear is doomed to a similar fate thanks to a notable lack of kills. M3GAN would never have left this much food on the table.

You can see what the critics are saying below:

Nick Schager, The Daily Beast:

Onto the trash pile of middling killer-children’s-toy horrorshows one must now toss Imaginary, a lifeless hodgepodge of the hoariest cliches the genre has to offer. Lifting liberally from countless scary movies (with Henry Selick’s Coraline near the top of that list), this throwaway features creepy basements, harrowing nightmares, unsettling old ladies, fuzzy memories, bratty teens, helpful therapists, mentally unstable adults who can sense the supernatural, eerily bouncing balls, spooky shadow lanterns that play unnerving lullabies, foreboding kids’ drawings, uncanny family photographs, witchy magic rituals, secret doorways, inhuman specters, alternate universes, giant monsters, and M.C. Escher dreamscapes. Creakiest of all its hackneyed devices, though, is its villain: a teddy bear whose malevolent designs are about as routine as its appearance is mundane.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety:

In its skittery, overlayered trickiness, what “Imaginary” lacks is a grounded feeling for the psychology that binds children to the friends they make up. “M3GAN,” which was also a Blumhouse production (a far superior one), had that kind of catchy and scannable horror-film psychology in the relationship that developed between Violet McGraw’s Cady and her lethal robot-doll BFF. But psychology, in too many films these days, is the dramatic ingredient that gets left on the shelf (that’s true even in a certain current acclaimed big hit — a movie with more sand than psychology). “Imaginary,” despite a few creepy moments, is starved for scenes that make the fear it’s showing you relatable.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter:

Imaginary, which starts out as a relatively low-key suspenser with intriguing psychological depth, eventually succumbs to the inanities plaguing so many recent horror efforts (like the killer pool in the same company’s Night Swim). It’s a shame because Wise delivers a very strong performance as the beleaguered heroine and has fine support from the younger players, with Braun haunting as the little girl desperate for a friend, even one in the form of a not particularly cuddly teddy bear. She would have been better off with Ted.

Austen Goslin, Polygon:

It’s hard to know where to start in describing how bad Imaginary is. The new horror movie from Blumhouse and director Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) starts with the simple but promising premise of a haunted stuffed animal and a malicious imaginary friend, but its bland characters, muddy storytelling, and lack of scares leave behind a movie more lifeless than a teddy bear with no stuffing.

Peyton Robinson,

While it desires itself to be a horror film, what ensues over the course of its runtime feels more like a confused study of tropes that never pay off. For its genre aspirations, “Imaginary” has a pointed lack of scares and gore, relying more on the mere idea of what its concept could be rather than what the film actually is. There’s no carnage candy or heart pounding suspense to relieve the film from its droning pace, and instead it gets caught in a cycle of disappointments as the suggestion of bloodshed or tension fizzles into yet another fake-out.

Benjamin Lee, The Guardian:

Wadlow has spoken of his desire to make a four-quadrant horror intended for a broader audience, the likes of which audiences saw more of in the 1980s, operating like a roller coaster that’s exciting in the moment but unlikely to leave a mark. It’s an admirable mission statement and given how self-serious so many horror films can now be, aiming for more fun is no bad thing but Imaginary is far too dumb and ungainly to move at the pace required and bring the thrills it should, a theme park ride that should be closed for repairs.

Imaginary is now playing in theaters.

(Via Variety)