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Archive for the ‘Babadook’ Category

The Babadook

The-Babadook-Poster.jpgThe internet was blowing up last week, well Twitter, when director William Friedkin proclaimed The Babadook to be the scariest film he had ever seen.  The film immediately went from sitting in my Netflix queue, to being purchased on Apple TV.  I had to see what all the fuss was that Friedkin was making.

I feel that Friedkin actually does the film a disservice by seeing it as only a horror film, or at least his little blurb.  I went in to the film hoping to be terrified to my core, but there are definitely scarier films that have come out this year.  I actually thought Annabelle was one of them.   I think the terror lies, and I think this is what Friedkin was implying, in the fact that this is a film about actual terror.  Terror that exists in the real world.  Terror that befalls people that may touch our lives in some way, or that we may have come across.

Essie Davis plays Amelia.  A single mother that lost her husband on the day her son was born, in a horrific car crash on the way to the hospital.  Her son Sam is a troubled boy with a larger than life imagination.  He’s constantly getting in trouble at school, and Amelia is just trying to keep everything together for her son as she continues to grieve the loss of her husband for the past 7 years.

Amelia once used to write children’s books, but now she tries to get as many shifts as possible as a nurse in an old folks home to make ends meet.  It’s when Sam gets in trouble at school repeatedly that Amelia must find a way to help her boy.  It’s also at this time that Sam finds a book called Mr. Babadook, and his imagination begins to get the better of him.

The book is a thing of terror that haunts Sam.  Amelia does not know where the book came from, and tries to get rid of it on repeated occasions.  The book continues to pop up, and soon a sleep deprived Amelie begins seeing things in her house.  Things that the book has written about, and foreshadowed begin to invade their lives.  She loses more sleep as Sam is tormented by the thoughts of losing his mother to Mr. Babadook.  Amelia assures him it is only his imagination, but soon she begins to not believe that herself.

The Babadook focuses more on the mechanics of why we become afraid, and what the causes of that fear are, rather than simple jump and scare tactics like most horror films.  You’ll get some of that in the film (which looks dark and beautiful by the way) but the focus is really on how Amelia reacts to the events that are happening around her.  There are deeper questions and concerns that need answers in Amelia and Sam’s life and times together, and we get to dig for the clues as participants.

It’s a very intelligent film in a genre that is more focused in recouping costs through VOD formats, with rehashed scripts and formulaic ideas. It’s very hard to make a film like this that holds merit as a film on its own. Director Jennifer Kent painstakingly takes her time to build a very specific thread throughout the film, with little bits of terror to carry us along, and Essie Davis is so good as the disturbed Amelia.  One of the better films of the year that stays with you, and which I’m looking forward to having a second viewing of.

Grade: A