New Blumhouse horror Imaginary was inspired by one of Guillermo del Toro’s best movies


Jeff Wadlow, writer and director of the new Blumhouse horror movie Imaginary, has revealed that classic works of fantasy were a big influence on the film, especially the creation of the Never-Ever, an otherworldly universe and kingdom of imagination that our characters are plunged into as the film continues.

Imaginary taps into the innocence of imaginary friends, and asks, are they really figments of childhood imagination, or is something terrifying lying just beneath?

When asked about the fantasy feel of the Never-Ever, and whether he’s a fan of that kind of storytelling and visuals – including films like Labyrinth – Wadlow told GamesRadar+: "I’m a huge fan of the fantasy genre, and Labyrinth was a major touchstone for us. So was Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, all the works of Lewis Carroll. And also children's book authors like Maurice Sendak [who created 'Where the Wild Things Are'] really influenced the look and feel of the film. But one of our major touchstones was Pan’s Labyrinth, which I think is the best horror fantasy film made in recent memory."

The influences from Pan’s Labyrinth don’t end at the creation of the Never-Ever either, with award-winning animatronic and practical effects house Spectral Motion creating Imaginary’s creatures like Chauncey the bear and a fearsome giant spider. Wadlow explained: "We have this spider monster in our movie […] that’s a contortionist who can move his body in amazing ways in a real spider suit designed by Spectral Motion, who made all the monsters for most of Guillermo Del Toro’s movies."

And as far as the impact of Lewis Carroll’s works of fantasy go, don’t think it stops at the idea of tumbling into another world – as Wadlow said, with a boyish grin: "It’s not an accident that our little girl is called Alice."

If you’d like to indulge in the fantasy yourself, Imaginary is in cinemas from March 8. We also spoke to actor DeWanda Wise about how the teddy bear caused some issues on set as well as in the film.

For more scares, check out our guides to the best horror movies of all time and all of the new horror movies on the way in 2024.