Frightfest 2015: The Babadook

Amelia (Essie Davis) has never had the chance to grieve the death of her husband 7 years ago. Because her beloved Oscar died in a car carsh while Amelia was in labor, processing her trauma had to take a back seat to raising a newborn all by herself. Now about to turn 7, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is having some trouble fitting in, unable to shake the feeling that his mom will one day leave him and develops an obsession with protecting him and his mother from monsters.

Oh, and there’s a monster in his closet.

babadook

What starts with a creepy children’s book that mysteriously appears on his shelf, (“If it’s in a word. Or if it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of… The Babadook”), escalates into a full-blown assault on Amelia’s psyche. The more The Babadook gets under her skin, the more dangerous Amelia becomes to her terrified son.

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The Babadook, the feature debut from director Jennifer Kent, is a supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Shining. Kent’s film, however, separates itself from Kubrick’s classic in two important ways. First, the dynamic between mother and son and the themes of trauma and loss are more psychologically astute here, with character arcs that would still be satisfying even without the horror element. Second, with Amelia, Davis- as she herself has pointed out- has to play both Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson to Samuel and she plays them both perfectly. Her descent into madness is is captivating and played with a restraint that- as much as we all love Jack- has never been his strong suit.

The Babadook will get under your skin. Filmmaker William Friedkinhas apparently stated that he has never seen a movie more terrifying. And he directed the Exorcist, so…

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8 thoughts on “Frightfest 2015: The Babadook

  1. renxkyoko

    I watched it 2x…. first, I stopped watching because I got scared. I managed to finish it on my second try. I’m a bit confused at the ending though. Have the mother and son accepted they’re living with a monster and it looks like everything’s A-Okay ? My brother highly recommended this movie.

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    1. Matt Post author

      As far as I can tell, you’re absolutely right. It seems that she has learnt to live with her momster and take care of it, instead of denying it as she has in the past, which only made it stronger. It seems that she and her son have finally found peace until that one final look of what I took as dissatisfaction that crosses her face in the final shot.

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  2. Pingback: Frightfest 2015 | Assholes Watching Movies

    1. Matt Post author

      I think you’ll like it. It definitely has a way of getting under your skin. But not so bad that I lost any sleep over it though. I was surprised to find that I slept just fine that night.

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  3. Aneta

    Did you know this movie was made on a ridiculously small budget of about $20,000 or something? Job well done I’d say! Except I’m not overly thrilled with the ending :/

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    1. Matt Post author

      I had read that, yes. It’s actually kind of amazing because some of the production design was just incredible. I really wasn’t sure how I felt about the ending. It’s a little awkward as the ending to a ghost story but I can see how it works with her themes of integrating past trauma into your life story.The more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

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  4. Pingback: Why It’s Fun To Be Scared… Sometimes | Assholes Watching Movies

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