Imaginary Movie Cast & Crew Talk Horror Inspirations, Production Challenges, Sequel Prospects & More (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Chauncey from Imaginary

The cast and filmmakers behind Imaginary shared their thoughts on other movies similar to the latest Blumhouse Pictures horror film.

The new movie, centered around a deadly imaginary friend in the form of a teddy bear named Chauncey, follows DeWanda Wise’s Jessica, whose return to her childhood home reintroduces an old friend to her life—one who is upset that they were left behind when she was a little girl.

Similar Movies & Inspirations for Blumhouse's Imaginary

DeWanda Wise as Jessica in Imaginary
Blumhouse Pictures

The Direct attended the red carpet premiere of Imaginary in Los Angeles and discussed the new movie with the cast and filmmakers.

One of the first questions presented was what other movies would Imaginary remind audiences of?

Star DeWanda Wise (who plays Jessica) noted that it reminded her of Hereditary-type movies, with "almost an Elizabeth Moss kind of performance:"

"Funny enough, it reminded me more of like your 'Hereditary;’ it reminded me of almost an Elizabeth Moss kind of performance. One that costs a lot—the more like psychological horror movies. We’re giving you jumpscares; you get the twists and turns. But there's something about the tone of this movie and the tempo of this movie that's really satisfying."

Annabelle from Annabelle: Creation
Warner Bros.

Sean Albert, the film's editor, noted Annabelle as another similar movie as well as the first few Insidious films (perhaps on account of otherworldly doors):

"‘Annabelle' for sure. And it also reminds me of the early 'Insidious' movies. Like the first 'Insidious' movie, The second, the third... Certainly for a younger audience, but I feel like the tone and the slow creepiness of it reminds me of those early James Wan movies."

Co-writer Greg Erb shared that when it came to their inspirations while writing the new movie, classics like Poltergeist and Nightmare on Elm Street influenced the final product:

"I think 'Poltergeist' is a good one. 'Nightmare on Elm Street.' I mean, [some of the] early Blumhouse stuff, too. All the 'Insidious' stuff and the 'Sinister' stuff. We're huge horror fans. So I could probably name about 1000 movies that influenced us."

M3GAN doll in M3GAN
Blumhouse Pictures

Actor Dane DiLiegro admitted while there might be a little Megan in there, for the most part, Imaginary "[is] quite unique:"

"I mean, there's a little bit of 'Megan' in there because you're dealing with some type of toy or something that a child seeks comfort in. But it's quite unique. Typically, when you're reading a script like that, you don't want it to be like anything else. And I think they did a pretty good job keeping it that way."

Blumhouse Pictures CEO Jason Blum added why he feels Imaginary is unique amongst everything else the studio has done.

Blum explained how he felt this movie goes back to "the Blumhouse roots" as it has "a lot of fun:"

"What makes this movie unique is, or what makes it satisfying, is that we were doing a lot of... we did spend a lot of time [with] 'Purge' and 'Halloween' and doing horror that was very dark and serious. And I wanted to go back to kind of the Blumhouse roots, which is supernatural and also really fun and funny. If you look at the 'Insidious' movies or 'Paranormal Activity,' the later 'Paranormal Activity' movies, there's a lot of fun and humor. And so I wanted to do it, the 2024 version of that. And to me, that's what 'Imaginary' is."

Chauncey in Imaginary
Blumhouse Pictures

The big threat faced by the protagonists of Imaginary is an evil imaginary friend named Chauncey, who comes in the form of an unassuming teddy bear.

When asked what makes this horrific teddy bear a unique horror icon, Director Jeff Wadlow proudly proclaimed that "no one’s ever done a teddy bear before:"

"Chauncey is a unique horror icon because no one's ever done a teddy bear before. Let's be honest, right? I mean, this is... it's hard to believe, but it's the first time we've had a truly evil teddy bear and a film. Also, I think he's unique because he's not what you think. We made a movie, and it's called 'Imaginary.' It's not called 'Chauncey.' So that should be a real clue that there's more going on in this film."

With a unique film comes unique challenges for everyone involved.

For co-writer Greg Erb, this was "actually one of the first horror movies" both he and his writing partner wrote:

"Well, this is actually one of the first horror movies we wrote. We kind of came from a family film background, and we've always been huge horror fans. We kind of got our start here with Blumhouse and the team over there, and so really kind of learning, transferring our love of horror to writing a horror script was probably the biggest challenge. And it was a great learning experience."

For editor Albertson, his biggest challenge came in the form of "editing an inanimate objects to bring out human aspects:"

"The biggest challenge that I've never faced before on this movie is editing an inanimate object to bring out human aspects. So you've got this teddy bear that's not really moving and not doing anything. But he's a main character in the movie. And every time we cut to him, it has to tell the audience something about what he's thinking, feeling or might do. And, so, that is definitely a challenge I don't think I've had in my career before."

Star DeWanda Wise dealt with a different, fairly practical bump in the road: trying to “[keep] a straight face acting across a teddy bear:”

"The most unique challenge this production gave me was keeping a straight face acting across a teddy bear… more challenging than you would think it was."

Dane Diliegro, who embodied the larger, more nightmarish version of Chauncey in the film, struggled with how "hot and humid" it was in New Orleans, especially being stuck in such an intense suit:

"I've never shot in New Orleans. New Orleans is very hot and humid. So even with the air-conditioned set that we were on, it was very, very sweaty. And Jeff, our director, is a pro athlete director. He shoots fast, he knows what he wants, he shoots efficiently... So I was back in my pro-athlete days with Jeff. It was very sweaty, very taxing, but Jeff brings out the best in all of us, and it was high energy, but it was very sweaty and taxing as well."

With Imaginary being a horror movie, many viewers probably expect a franchise to be born inevitably. But have any of the filmmakers already experimented with continuing Chauncey’s story?

Co-writer Erb joked that "Chauncey and Barbie is the way to go, something that's a guaranteed moneymaker."

Jason Oremland, Erb’s writing partner, added how they "Think [they’re] just gonna go straight to a reboot."

On a more serious note, director Jeff Wadlow candidly admitted that "the quickest way to not have a sequel is [to] plan for the sequel:"

"Listen, when I make a movie, I try to put every good idea I have into that movie. Because let me tell you, the quickest way to not have a sequel is [to] plan for the sequel, right? So you want to make the best movie you can. I think we've done that. If fans embrace it, there's a demand for another film. I'm sure we will figure one out using our imaginations."

As for Alix Angelis, who plays Samantha in the movie, she is more than up for another installment to give her character more time to shine: "Yes, let's do that… I think that Chauncey could definitely haunt Samantha."

With the movie all about imaginary friends, it's hard not to wonder if those involved in the filmmaking ever had one themselves.

Sean Albertson admitted that "Amazingly," he had "a good bear" named "Billy."

Greg Erb also had "a stuffed bear named Big Bear" and another imaginary friend named Harold.

While his writing partner Oremland didn't have one, his brother, on the other hand, had "a creepy" one named "Gentleman."

As for Pyper Braun, who plays Alice in the movie, while she didn't have an imaginary friend, she does "have a ton of bears." Thankfully, her time with Chauncey hasn't turned her away from teddy bears entirely, but she admittedly "see[s] bears in a different way now."

As for what comes next, Bruan said that while she "will do anything that comes her way," she personally really hopes to partake "in a period piece."

Her co-star, DeWanda Wise, is pretty busy with projects such as Poolman and Three Woman:

"Well, coming out this year. I have 'Poolman' that's out soon. 'Three Woman' on Starz that's coming out soon. And then I'm filming a psychological thriller with Guy Pearce. That's coming soon, too, I'm busy."

Imaginary hits theaters on Friday, March 8.

- In This Article: Imaginary
Release Date
March 08, 2024
DeWanda Wise
Tom Payne
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.