The Babadook (2014)

31 nights of horror, night 11

From Australia we get a film about a single mom, her son and a book that scares the crap out of them and us.

This movie does horror the way I like it. Introduction of sympathetic characters, atmospheric background music and sounds, a slow build on the creep factor so you don’t know what is real and what is imaginary.

You really feel for Essie Davis’ Amelia Vanek. Her husband died the night their son was born and she has been on her own to raise a boy with a very active imagination, obsessed with monsters under the bed and a need to protect his mother. You can see she is clearly not coping well and is getting to the limits of what she can handle. One night, during story time, she reads a book that scares them both so bad it makes the insomnia she suffers from even worse. When she thinks she starts seeing things from the book coming true, is it real, or has she finally been pushed past what she can handle?

Until I started looking things up for this article, I did not know this film was writer/director Jennifer Kents first feature. It doesn’t show. The movie is exceptionally well done. It grabs you, pulls you in and doesn’t let go. You get so caught up in what is happening, that there isn’t much time to think about the plot holes or question the underlying premise of the movie. That’s a good thing.

What do I mean by plot holes and underlying premise? Well, thinking about it afterwards, I kind of wondered, the book and the boy said the mother “let the Babadook in”, so if she let it in, how did the book get in the house in the first place? It would have made more sense for the book to have been in, say a box of other books they got at a 2nd hand store, or garage sale, or for it to have been mysteriously found in her sons school bag, than simply appear on his book shelf.

My other problem, and it’s mostly a minor one, her son seems to know and understand a lot more about this monster than he should, given that he reads less of the book than his mom does, and if he had read it already (it was on his bookshelf) why does he freak out the way he does when they read it?

But that’s all minor stuff, the movie is atmospheric and spooky as hell. The insect like movements of the creature and bug background noises really gave me the creeps.

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