The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, brought to you by a/perture Cinema, is The Babadook. I like nouveau shock cinema, generally. The new wave of horror films that have been and are coming out are usually innovative and more creepy than scary, although I’ll admit, sometimes they are still that.
This film stars Essie Davis as Amelia and Noah Wiseman as her son, Samuel. IMDb offers the following summary: “A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.” Let’s say that Samuel, is a holy terror and a major behavioral problem (which I blame on the mother and her lack of discipline). He’s basically kicked out of school at all of what? 6? There were times, as an adult – with a kid, that I had a hard time watching this because I wanted her to bust his tail and make him settle down. He insists on taking weapons, including a homemade, wearable catapult, to school and his cousin’s house, where he terrorizes her with stories of grandeur and monsters, although he seems to not be able to handle monsters very well; he’s a scardey-cat.
One day he finds a pop up storybook in his room called, The Babadook. She starts reading it to him and at first it’s tame but then it starts showing violence. That wigs the kid out and the next scene you see her trying to read Dr. Seuss to him whilst he buries his face in her lap screaming and crying. She then hides the book in the top of her closet, out of her reach without a chair and definitely out of Samuel’s with. A few days later she finds the book in another room. She rips up the pages and throws it in the rubbage bin (this is an Australian film, thus rubbage). The next day someone knocks on her door. She looks and no one is there. She closes the door and walks away. Someone BANGS on the door. She opens and again, no one there. She looks down and, predictably, she finds the book on the stoop, pages taped back together with a new message in the back, the more she denies the Babadook’s existence the more it will haunt her. Then she puts it on a bbq grill and burns the bejeezus out of it. Well, the Babadook calls her on the phone but only chants its own name in a voice reminiscent of The Grudge.
Partly because of the lack of sleep and then later partly due to being possessed of the Babadook, she starts showing that she may harm Sam. But, ol’ Sam doesn’t give up, luckily he has his catapult. Amelia fights it and finally is able to rid herself of the Babadook, or does she? The rest you’ll have to see for yourself as I’m not giving any spoilers away.
Rotten Tomatoes ranked it 98% Fresh and has a 75% among users ratings. The critics’ response was: “The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares — and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.” I call shenanigans!
The idea was decent, especially when you add storybook flair to it (children and their effects always bring extra creepiness to any story), but other than thinking that Wiseman played the kid great (if not annoyingly so) the rest of the film was a bit hokey to me. The acting was good but I just found it hard to suspend my disbelief and if anyone knows me, that’s not too hard for me to do as I love the fantasy that films bring. It may have been that I didn’t give a hoot about the kid because he was annoying or that I was upset at the mom because of how the kid got away with stuff. Either way, I didn’t really care for this at all, which was disappointing as I was so looking forward to it. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t think that’s the case.
One critic, who wrote a review for Daily Beast said that he “contends that grief is the ‘real monster’ in The Babadook, and that the film is ‘about the aftermath of death; how its remnants destroy long after the dead body has been buried or burned’.” That I can see, and in that case I think it’s a good concept, but again, not a great execution.
I saw it on Netflix and I rated it a 2 Stars on there and I’m not going to make it any different here. It was written and directed by Jennifer Kent. If you like creepy psychological horror films then, by all means, I do recommend it. It does have the “hair crawling” affect but on the all, it wasn’t a great film. I would, however, like to hear your thoughts on it. I know a lot of my friends have seen it because it’s on Netflix and Facebook. Tell me your thoughts. Tweet me or Facebook me or send an email to me.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“A rumbling sound then 3 sharp knocks ba-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK! That’s when you’ll know he’s around.” – The Babadook (2014)