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IMAGINARY
The Latest in a String of Fictitious F(r)iends

By Mo Moshaty  January, 18, 2024

Blumhouse's new supernatural offering, Imaginary, revels in the manifestation of the imaginary friend - so a perfect pick for our Creepy Kids Month! This tale follows Jessica, (Dewanda Wise) who returns to her childhood home to discover that the imaginary friend she left behind is very real and unhappy that she abandoned him. 

Phew! Speaking to the account that the power of children can help something come to life, or most likely a malevolent spirit tucks nicely inside a Squishmallow. Let's meander through cinematic terrors that let imagination and evil run wild!

Check out our Letterboxd list "NightTide Magazine: Imaginary F(r)iends" here!

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The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

The young, friendless daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed befriends her father's dead first wife and an aging, reclusive actress.

We moved around A LOT when I was young and as a latchkey kid myself, it's easy to understand the draw of creating your own reality when faced with the lack of real connection. Amy's openness to Irena's spirit isn't overly damaging here but let's be honest - the loss of an unlived life is a lot for a child to bear. And it's a great work with heavy subject matter. We're not getting out of this life alive and running away from the pain of loss only ensures more pain in the long run.

A FAR cry from its third cinematic cousin "Cat People" (or marketed in relation to) it's a good Sunday psychological horror watch. 

Hide and Seek (2005)

As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife's suicide, his daughter finds solace, at first, in her imaginary friend.

Dragging your child away from the scene of the crime is M.O. for most main protagonists in horror films and for good reasons - mental and emotional health for one. But the location where David (Robert DeNiro) has taken his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) has begotten a new imaginary friend named Charlie. And Charlie is wreaking havoc, with animal deaths and nightmares afoot for both David and Emily. Throw in David making a local lady friend into the mix and oh dear....

It's a look at the power of suggestion, psychosis, and grief. It has a lull in the middle but it's worth the push-through!

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May (2002)

A lonely and socially awkward veterinary assistant descends into depravity after developing a crush on a boy with perfect hands.

This one's a doozy as poor, lonely May the child turns into poor, lonely May (Angela Bettis) the adult. Accompanied by only a strange doll in a glass case named Suzy over the course of her life, May longs for human connection - mainly doofus (Jeremy Sisto) with good hands. In a freak accident, Suzy gets broken, sending May on a body horror rampage. 

The Perfect Host (2010)

An on-the-run convict looking for temporary cover finds it at the house of a very colorful character.

Listen. I've been in love with David Hyde Pierce since 1993 and this movie GOT ME. 93 minutes of sweet Niles Crane being psychotic and nasty is an absolute win! Poor John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) is a man on the run. He needs a place to lay low and he thinks he's found it in a what should be, vacant home. Unfortunately for John, but fortunately for Warwick (David Hyde Pierce) it's completely occupied and certified swinging. As Warwick's dinner party gets more and more unsettling John realizes he may have been much safer outside. 

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PIN (1988)

Isolated by his strange parents, Leon finds solace in an imaginary friend, which happens to be an anatomy doll from his father's doctor office. Unfortunately, the doll begins to take over Leon's life, and his sister's life as well.

We sometimes look to our parents to be demonstrative of behavior in certain situations. Leon (David Hewlett) and Ursula's (Cyndy Preston) father, Dr. Linden (Terry O'Quinn) has.....a penchant for chatting with his anatomy doll, PIN, and using PIN as disciplinary tool. Leon loves PIN and sees him as a confidante, where Ursula despises PIN for all the right reasons. 

When their parents die in a car accident, more than affluent Leon and Ursula are forced to live on their own in the mansion with a new roomie. PIN. Leon's spiraling with the help of PIN is really something to behold!

Track 29 (1988)

Linda is still tormented by giving up a baby for adoption at 15. She wants a baby, but her husband has enough in his model training, mistress, and being a doctor.

Talk about a journey! This film is full of twists and turns and torment and you will feel a bit filthy afterwards. Troubled Linda (Theresa Russell) is beside herself with longing for the child she gave up, and the frustration with her absentee husband Henry (Gary Oldman). Throughout this disturbing tale, you're not sure what's real and what's not. Which makes the voyage all the more unsettling.

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Z (2019)

A family finds themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son's imaginary friend.

The Parsons have their work cut out for them. Their son Josh is acting out in school and seems aggressive and unhappy. Sounds like an evil imaginary friend named Z has joined the chat. Z, who incidentally was his mother's Beth imaginary friend when she was a child that she forgot all about. Hmmm, sounding familiar. 

Anywho, Z terrorizes, murders, and sets ablaze the Parson's life, leaving Josh stranded between good and evil. 

Imaginary releases worldwide on March 8th 

What other imaginary friend films would you add to our list?

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Mo Moshaty is a horror writer, lecturer and producer. As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and life long horror fan, Mo has lectured with Prairie View A&M Film & TV Program as a Keynote, BAFSS Horror Studies Sig  and The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Mo has partnered with horror giant, Shudder Channel, to co-produce the 13 Minutes of Horror Film Festival 2021 and 2022 with Nyx Horror Collective and her literary work "Love the Sinner" was published with Brigid's Gate Press in July of 2023 and her two volume collection, "Clairviolence: Tales of Tarot and Torment Vol. One and Two" will be published with Spooky House Press in the Spring of 2024

Mo is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of NightTide Magazine

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