Film Review: The Babadook
November 7, 2014 Chris Caldwell 0 Comments
The Babadook currently has a whopping 96% freshness score on Rotten Tomato, something I haven’t seen from a horror movie in a while. So last Tuesday I paid my 3 quid and slunk into the darkness of the Movie House on Dublin road to see if it was justified.
The story of Babadook concerns a mother and son who live on their own after the sons father died in an accident as he took her to the hospital to give birth. The father’s death anniversary is approaching and the child has the mother run ragged. He builds weapons, is boisterous, gets into trouble at school and the mother looks like she just doesn’t know what to do with him anymore. One day when she is trying to get the kid to sleep he brings her a book to read, the book is called Mr. Babadook. A scary black shadow of a man who once you let in you can never get rid of. And that is about as much of the story as is worth knowing at this point, although there’s not really too much that can be told that would ruin the film. It’s not that kind of ‘depends on a twist’ kind of film.
The Babadook is a film worth checking out, in a world filled with crap jump scares this is a film that takes it’s time. It builds tension and teases mercilessly, but all for the better. The story is heartfelt and although at times can be a little unpolished feels all the more real for it. The child actor (Noah Wieseman) is tremendous, he’s annoying and likable at the same time, something of a hard balance to get. The mother, played by Essie Davis, is also played very well, as we fell so sorry for her at times and at other why the hells he’s doing what she’s doing. The film spirals from a story of a mother who ultimately blames her son for her husband’s death to a descent into madness that is both well documented and filled with actual scares and moments of fear. Not often does a mainstream horror film dare to pace itself as this film does, and because of this it feels both fresh and welcome. The special effects used in the film are practical and effective, as they present Mr Babadook to us a terrifying monster that we never fully engage with, he creeps in the shadows as we construct his image him from the bits we’ve seen, to be as scary as our imagination lets. The most terrifying thing is the unknown, and I don’t enjoy an overly exposed horror monster.
You could also spend a while wondering of the metaphors and symbolism of what transpires in the film. There’s obviously a psychological side that is exploring themes of mental illness, transference, bi-polar and the pain of losing a loved one interweaved in this simple tale. But you can take and leave that as much as you like, I choose to leave it this time and enjoy it as a straight up tale as it was presented.
A sequel is inevitable I feel as the character of Mr. Babadook is an instant classic, I just hope they don’t feel the need to bring the shadowy figure too much into the light!