Imaginary: Is the 2024 Horror Movie Inspired by True Events?

Helmed by the artistic vision of ‘Truth or Dare’ and ‘The Curse of Bridge Hollow‘ director Jeff Wadlow, ‘Imaginary’ is a horror film that brings to life the nightmare of every person who has played with a stuffed toy in their early days. The narrative centers upon a woman named Jessica whose blissful world takes a terrifying turn when she returns to the home that marked her childhood. She is a successful artist now who is leading a content familial life with her blended family, comprising her loving husband and his beautiful daughters. As they begin to unpack stuff in order to settle down into what was once Jessica’s “happy place,” weird things begin to transpire. Her stepdaughter, Alice, finds Jessica’s button-eyed stuffed bear named Chauncey, and the young girl instantly takes a liking to it.

As Alice spends more time with Chauncey, her demeanor grows more and more hostile, serving as a cause for worry for the family. Moreover, the young girl also reveals to Jessica that the imaginary friend from the latter’s childhood is upset with her for having abandoned it years ago to pursue a life outside of the town. Realizing Chauncey is actually a supernatural entity disguising itself as the friendly bear she grew up loving, Jessica finds herself on tenterhooks and pulls out all the stops to get it to detach itself from Alice and save her life. Chaos ensues. Driven by the compelling performance of DeWanda Wise as Jessica, the film’s intriguing story lies in the same vein as ‘Insidious’ and ‘Child’s Play’ and lends a supernatural touch to childhood trauma, raising the question of whether or not it has been taken from the chapter of someone’s life.

The Writers of Imaginary Took Inspiration From Several Horror Fantasy Films

‘Imaginary’ isn’t a true story by any stretch of the imagination, but is rather the brainchild of three talented screenwriters — Greg Erb, Jason Oremland, and Jeff Wadlow. With the help of their creative imagination, the trio came up with the character Chauncey the Bear and evolved its character traits over the course of four years. In an attempt to perfect the script and the characters, the writers made numerous script drafts before the final version of the script was completed. During the writing process of ‘Imaginary,’ several movies served as inspiration for them, including ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ ‘Friday the 13th,’ ‘Labyrinth,’ ‘Sinister‘ franchise, ‘M3GAN,’ ‘Happy Death Day,’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

In an insightful interview with Screen Rant, the producer of ‘Imaginary’ Jason Blum and director-co-writer Jeff Wadlow were asked about the inception of the movie and how it landed on Jason’s desk. Having found success in the 2018 film ‘Truth or Dare‘ and the 2020 horror movie ‘Fantasy Island,’ Jason was pondering over his options, trying to figure out which kind of movie should he produce next. That’s when Jeff straight-up asked him what he really wanted. Since he had already been involved in projects like ‘The Purge’ and ‘Halloween,’ Jason was looking for something supernatural and surreal, but at the same time, hair-raising scary.

Jason admitted that once he had laid down his demands in front of Jeff, the latter got to work. Jeff joined in the conversation and said, “Yeah. I just wanted to make a movie about an imaginary friend. I loved the idea of playing with subjectivity in cinema. And so I just signed a first-look deal with Jason. So I was talking to other writers trying to find people I could collaborate with, and Greg Erb and Jason Oremland, who are old friends of mine, came in, and they pitched me this idea of an evil teddy bear. And I felt, ‘That’s not enough for a movie. My imaginary friend thing isn’t enough for a movie. What if we combine them?’ And we delivered a script for Imaginary with Jason. He said, ‘Let’s make it.'”

Moreover, the filmmaker revealed that apart from the above-mentioned films that inspired the creation of ‘Imaginary,’ the original ‘Poltergeist’ was a major source of inspiration as well. During a conversation with SFX Magazine, Jeff explained, “We try to do a modern-day version of that with our film, where the terror is coming from this unknown presence that has infected the safety of the family home. We also tried to lean into the Spielbergian aspects of that. What if this thing that you’ve always imagined was actually real? What would be the upside of that? We try to explore it with a modern sensibility.” Thus, it is clear that the main source of inspiration for ‘Imaginary’ was not reality but mostly other horror fantasy movies instead.

Read More: Imaginary: Where Was the Horror Movie Filmed?