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The Babadook Review

29 Nov

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The Babadook is an original, frightening, and profoundly sad look at a woman’s psyche, at the effects of trauma, at the relationship between a mother and a son. It doesn’t shy away from certain staples of the horror genre; rather, it utilizes them in unique ways, taking cliches and structuring them around character instead of around plot or style. As a result, this is 90 minutes of engrossing psychological horror, a (scary) breath of fresh air in what is presently a very stale genre.

Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman anchor this film as Amelia and Samuel, respectively, giving stellar performances throughout. At the beginning, Kent builds up the tension by focusing on Samuel, the child, and his penchant for testing your patience. What starts as a story of a child being troublesome, however, quickly becomes darker and darker, and Sam’s vulnerability is always present behind his behavior. This becomes extremely important later on because we find out that Oskar, Amelia’s husband, died in a car crash while driving his wife to the hospital. That’s all I will spoil, but it’s needless to say that the effects of that death still linger in the present day, still play a huge role in the relationship between Amelia and Samuel.

Kent steadily chips away at this relationship throughout the film, and through a children’s book–Mister Babadook–she derives the maximum amount of horror possible. What makes this film so effective is the fact that it relies on the psychological more than the supernatural; this is not so much a story about a monster chasing people through the dark as much as it is a story about internal monsters manifesting themselves in external terrors. The film takes a look at loss and loneliness and grief and repression, and it digs into the recesses of our minds, focusing on the story of a mother and son as it still brings the scares. As it barrels toward its poignant ending, we begin to wonder: who really is the Babadook, and where exactly is it coming from?

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Alexander Juhasz created the storybook, and he did a fantastic job with it. Kent and co. expertly tie those pages in with the set itself, one put together on a $2.5 million budget by production designer Alex Holmes, cinematographer Radek Ladczuk, and Kent.

-Kudos to Jennifer Kent for this project. It’s tough for female directors to break through in this industry, sadly, and I hope we will be seeing more of her in the future.

-I don’t normally seek out horror movies, and the last one I saw–The Conjuring–was a bit disappointing. I’m glad I saw this, though.

-I’ve read from trauma victims and people who have suffered from depression and parents in general that this movie is very good at capturing their experiences.

SPOILER SPACE:

-The answer to “Who really is the Babadook?” is the following: The Babadook is a manifestation of Amelia’s mental struggle, of her repressed feelings, of her grief. After all, we get two big instances in which the film nudges us toward the fact that Amelia was the one who wrote the book: she says at the party that used to be a children’s book writer, and at the police station, she has charcoal on her hands. She probably wrote this in the wake of her husband’s death.

-The husband’s death is a really interesting foundation for this movie. I’m sure most parents don’t feel the urge to hurt their kids, but on some level or another, there’s this tension at times in the relationship, one that you just want to end. Here, there’s another element, because if Samuel wasn’t born, the husband wouldn’t have died.

– “I’ll soon take off my funny disguise and once you see what’s underneath, you’re going to wish you were dead.” Fitting that what Amelia sees is her husband at the end of the movie.

-On the ending: it’s really excellent. I wasn’t keen on it at first, but once I thought about it a little, it made sense. The Babadook will always be there. Amelia can’t get rid of it, so she has to keep it in her basement and feed it worms. It’s a down ending in that she can’t get rid of it, but there’s a glimmer of hope here because once she’s locked it away and acknowledged it, she can hope for a better life.

-On the worms: worms fertilize the earth, so that’s an idea that can be applied to Amelia and her improvement. Another thought is that by having the worms be the Babadook’s food, the Babadook doesn’t, say, feed on her or her child anymore.

-I like that the woman who comes over is named Mrs. Roach, and Amelia sees roaches.

Photo credit: Causeway Films, The Babadook

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15 Responses to “The Babadook Review”

  1. Marshall November 29, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    I’ve only started hearing about this movie this week, and now I’m thinking I will have to check it out…glad to hear it’s better than Conjuring, I too was kind of underwhelmed.

    • polarbears16 November 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Same here. I happened across a glowing review of it, then looked it up and, lo and behold, multiple glowing reviews! I hope you like it!

  2. ANooP November 30, 2014 at 1:37 am #

    Looks good, I think I will watch the movie soon.

    • polarbears16 November 30, 2014 at 1:45 am #

      Good! Let me know what you think?

      • ANooP November 30, 2014 at 1:45 am #

        Sure (y)

  3. #peggyatthemovies November 30, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    I have not heard of this one yet!! Thanks for sharing the review..looks like I will be adding it to my list!! 😀

    • polarbears16 November 30, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      Yeah, I just heard of it this week! Saw a bunch of glowing reviews and decided to check it out.

  4. thestubcollector December 1, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    Great review, and great movie! This saved the horror genre for me this year, after watching the horrendous excuses for horror Ouija and Annabelle. Such a fresh take on the genre. I wish I’d seen it in cinemas, but it is maybe more effective when you’re curled up in your blanket in your living room anyway :).

    • epilepticmoondancer December 2, 2014 at 5:51 am #

      Great review. Spot on. Did this remind you of Rosemary’s Baby or Repulsion? That final act, it is sooooooooo tense!! The mother is the scariest thing in the movie!!

      BTW some very interesting thoughts in the spoiler section

      Glad you liked a movie from down under. Our movies are starting to become really high quality and more noticed ie The Rover

      • thestubcollector December 2, 2014 at 7:24 am #

        I know of Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion but never got around to watching them. But if you say it’s anything like this, then I’ll definitely check them out.

        And yea I love that the psychological state of this woman scares us more than the actual creature. Nowadays a lot of people are satisfied with jump scares. It feels like this movie is reminding us of a more relatable form of fear, the fear of losing your sanity.

  5. Veronika Z December 21, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    This is one of the best reviews I’ve read about The Babadook so far, really amazing work! I especially liked the spoiler section; you pointed out some really interesting stuff.

  6. thycriticman June 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    If somebody tells me The Babadook is a bad movie, opinion or not, I kind of find them stupid afterwards. They can dislike it sure, but the film is intelligently made. This is clearly a director who actually put thought into making her horror film.

    Glad you felt the same dude.

  7. Anonymous September 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    It’s pretty stupid to throw in a bunch of links with keywords people are looking up on The Babadook’s ending just so you can have somebody read your blog. You don’t even actually address any of the questions!

    Pretty fucking shitty, dude.

    • polarbears16 September 13, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

      What questions did I not address? I’m sincerely interested to know.

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  1. The Babadook is original, genuinely frightening, and wonderfully acted. (A-) – Movie Categories - November 29, 2014

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