The Babadook

You can’t get rid of the Babadook” — Samuel

It’s Friday night. You and your buddies have settled on watching a scary movie. The only problem is, you aren’t really a fan of jumpscares.

We got you.

The Babadook is a 2014 psychological horror movie written and directed by Jennifer Kent, an expansion of her earlier short movie simply called Monster. It’s about a widow who struggles to bring up her only child after her husband died in a car crash while she was in labor. The boy, Samuel, starts behaving erratically, causing additional stress for her, and he blames it on a storybook monster called the Babadook. Amelia spends sleepless nights comforting him, but soon strange things start happening around their house, causing her to believe that a sinister presence might be haunting them.

The Babadook is a horror movie that doesn’t need to rely on jumpscares. Instead, its atmosphere of oppressive fear is created with carefully composed, dark and gloomy imagery inspired by classic horror, and handcrafted details such as the pop-up storybook and the stop-motion effects used for the monster itself. The movie manages to be both subtle and fast-paced at the same time, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Mister Babadook is unsettling, but not that scary when you look at him. He only appears a few times throughout the movie, always in the shadows, or at times when it’s unclear if it’s just a hallucination. What’s scarier is his persistence, and the implication about the origin of the monster.

Grief. Depression. Regret.

We learn that Amelia is in denial about her husband’s death and doesn’t even want to mention him at all. Just like “you can’t get rid of the Babadook”, the feeling of loss after a loved one’s death never goes away. Grief is the natural process of healing, but sometimes we fight it, knowing that we’d have to face the reality of a life without that person. And it’s hard. For a single mother like Amelia, it can be unbearable.

Essie Davis, the actress who plays Amelia, is incredibly genuine in her portrayal of a woman slowly sinking into madness. The six-year-old Noah Wiseman’s character is believable as well, and we found it especially interesting that Jennifer Kent insisted on protecting Noah from the aspects of filming that could potentially cause psychological damage, such as the scenes of verbal abuse. The rest of the cast is not particularly impressive, but it doesn’t matter. This is a story that focuses on the mother-son relationship, and they’re all we care about.

Made with a budget of only $2 million, The Babadook has grossed $7.5 million and earned a reputation as one of the best modern horror movies. Interestingly, it has gained popularity in the LGBT community, with a viral joke leading to queer interpretations of the monster. If we see Mister Babadook as the personification of repressed feelings, it’s certainly possible!

And without spoiling the ending, we believe that this is a must-see movie because it really emphasizes the importance of self-acceptance. There are times when we feel overwhelmed, and these are the times when we have to rely on ourselves the most and be our own ally against the monsters in our head.

The Babadook is a gem. The cinematography is beautiful, the acting believable, and the monster will make you want to reexamine your life choices. It’s an original take on psychological horror. Go watch it. You have nothing to lose.

Except maybe a few nights of sleep, but it will be worth it. We promise.

IMDb 3.4 /5
3.4 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 4.9 /5
4.9 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4.4 /5
4.4 out of 5
Overall

Combined average

4.23out of 5

Good
4.23 out of 5
Category Horror

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