It’s been a long time coming, but I’m delighted to say that The Babadook (2014) was successful in creating terror without showing too much of the monster itself.
It reminded me so much of the techniques used to build up to the monster’s introduction in Jeepers Creepers (2001), where glimpses of the horrifying being were shown, but the rest was left to your imagination (which can be an even scarier place to be)!
Original and compelling, The Babadook consumes its victim and unnerves the audience with its Nosferatu-style appearance and movement. This is one ghoul to scare the adults, never mind the children, and during the course of the film we see young Samuel (Noah Wiseman) adopt a growing, parental approach (building weapons and advising his mum), while his mother Amelia (Essie Davis) becomes frailer and more despairing before eventually ‘cracking’.
The Babadook is an emotional rollercoaster, with the ability to creep up your spine and stare straight into your eyeballs! Chilling. Timeless. 5 out of 5 stars (*****)
Like many others, I did pick up on The Babadook as being a metaphor for grief and mental health. Essie Davis’s fantastic performance is a credit to writer and director Jennifer Kent‘s creation. Together they bring to life, in some respects, an even more terrifying monster in the form of Amelia’s breakdown and aggressive acts – uncomfortable viewing if you are a dog lover – and it gets worse, when the mother attacks her own son…
I read that this film received a lukewarm reception initially in Australia, but grew in popularity in the US and Europe, and is now deemed to have gained somewhat of a cult following. Fans of the film have been waiting two years for a signed first edition of Mister Babadook, and in the last few weeks they have been taking recepit of their very special deliveries:
I love film memorabilia and the fact they’ve gone and created the very book is a stroke of genius – what a great collectors’ item!
One of the most satisfying parts of The Babadook has to be its ending. There was no ‘cop out’ or ‘happy ever after’, but rather a reminder that our demons can be kept at bay with hard work, but ultimately they may never really leave us. By keeping The Babadook fed in the cellar, Amelia is able to exert her control (to a point) by keeping it out of their living space and away from her child. But she still has to face ‘it’ each day.