THE BABADOOK. 2014. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JENNIFER KENT. STARRING ESSIE DAVIS AND NOAH WISEMAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Amelia Vanek is a woman at the end of her rope. Her son Samuel, a gorgeous curly-headed little lad of six, is driving her demented. It’s bad enough that she’s an exhausted single mother/widow whose job in a care home for the elderly hardly provides her with the mental stimulation she requires. She used to be a writer, after all. What she doesn’t need on top of all that is Samuel talking to an invisible monster that apparently has taken up residence in their home and wishes them both, especially Amelia though, ill…
So, who or what exactly is this spectral figure that’s tearing the already severely-stretched little Vanek family apart? Believe it or not, it’s a character from a childrens’ book that’s just turned up randomly in the house. He’s called (surprise, surprise…!) Mr. Babadook, a charmingly big-toothed, long-fingered fellow in top hat and a long overcoat who comes a- knocking loudly at your door and, when he finds you in… Well, you can imagine. If you refuse to let him in, however, or deny his existence, he gets bigger. There’s the rub…
Amelia’s life has become a living hell. Samuel talks non-stop about The Babadook, even to people outside the family. He has to be put on tranquilisers to calm him down and so that they can both get some desperately-needed kip. He’s been out of school since he hurt another kiddy with his Babadook-busting kit. His determination to protect his sleep-deprived mum from the monster that threatens them both is adorable and also heart-breaking. Meanwhile, The Babadook turns on and off lights, makes horrible growling noises and opens door in the dead of night. Is he getting bigger and closer? It certainly looks that way…
A few points to ponder. Is this really a film about a terrifying monster from a childrens’ storybook? Or is it really more about things that you refuse to talk or even think about until they become all-consuming, all-devouring and so much bigger and much worse than they need to be…? Do Amelia and Samuel have something like that in their lives, in their past, that must never be spoken about? Is it threatening to escape its confines now unless they do the right thing and let it come out into the light where it belongs? I’ll never tell, but you can find out for yourself by watching the movie.
The childrens’ book itself is brilliantly illustrated. Check out the scenes where the story becomes, shall we say, a little more personalised. It’s chilling stuff. The Babadook himself is a dead ringer for Lon Chaney Sr.’s character in LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, the lost film from the early part of the 20th century that we modern-day people will almost certainly never get to feast our hungry peepers on. What I wouldn’t give to see that movie…! I’d swap it for some of today’s rubbish any day of the week, haha…
I loved this film but, oddly enough, I was never really scared of it at any point. The poor tired Mammy and the frightened little boy with the gorgeous mop of curly hair are likeable characters whom it’s easy to sympathise and even empathise with. I think I just found the fleeting, too-speedy physical manifestations of The Babadook to be too unsatisfactory to be frightening. In fact, he’s much more interesting in book-form than he appears to be in the flesh, but of course you guys can make up your own minds.
This Australian-Canadian psychological horror film’s been described as being utterly terrifying. I don’t agree with that description, but one man’s meat is another man’s poison and all that. I loved their Australian accents, by the way, and Bugsy the dog and lovely old Mrs. Roach from next door.
Check out the ‘possession’ scene, the hilarious ‘vibrator’ scene, the scene where poor Amelia makes a total fool of herself down at the local cop-shop and also the one in which she puts the mothers at her niece’s birthday party and their first-world problems firmly back in their boxes. Probably expensive designer boxes, but whatever.
The film’s a great watch and you’ll hopefully enjoy it. Don’t answer the door afterwards though, if you hear three loud bone-chilling knocks pounding authoritatively at your entry. It could be The Babadook. That’s his signature how-d’ye-do, after all…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY