The Babadook

The Babadook (2014)

dir: Jennifer Kent

A clean, well-made horror movie. Its Gothic atmosphere and exploration of maternal guilt more than compensate for the one-dimensional boogeyman. SPOILERS!

I tried to ignore the hype.  The Babadook has been hailed as the scariest movie of the year, one of the scariest movies of all time, yada, yada, yada.  My take is that The Babadook, a story about a supernatural boogeyman that terrorizes a mother and her son, is the scariest movie of 2014.  It blurs the psychological and supernatural horror elements effectively.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a tired, single mother.  The birth of her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) coincided with the death of her husband.  Seven years later, she has few friends and a boring job.  The relationship Amelia has with Samuel is strained.  He’s an odd duck, who booby-traps the house and brings a crossbow to school.  He’s also clingy, or maybe he’s clingy because Amelia is cold towards him.  Your sympathies are with her though, because Samuel is the most annoying kid ever.  As Samuel’s birthday, and the anniversary of her husband’s death, approaches, Amelia struggles to keep it together.  Then, a book appears on the doorstep.

It’s about a creature that will haunt you once you read about him.  The book, Mister Babadook, is the creepiest children’s pop-up book ever. That said, this is a horror movie with few jump scares.  There are long takes and oppressive locations.    The house, where most of the action takes place, is drab and gray.  Mister Babadook sneaks in the shadows and dark corners of the house. The actors are washed out.  You feel lonely and trapped in the sparse, suburban house.  Essie Davis does a marvelous job of remaining sympathetic through this woman’s breakdown and recovery.

So, as The Babadook escalates the fear, the movie becomes more of a character study.  That may turn some people off. The Babadook is more than the boogeyman.  It’s all the repressed guilt, longing, and anger Amelia feels regarding her son and her husband’s death.  It’s refreshing that after battling this “demon” it doesn’t die, it is tamed.  It’s like battling an addiction.  The demon is always there hiding in the corner.

Recommend: Yes, Yes,

it’s available on VOD, Amazon Instant Video, and iTunes

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