The Babadook – horror film review
So thirty years after its original release, I finally sat down and watched Australian horror The Babadook. Well, okay it wasn’t really thirty years, but it felt like it (it was actually closer to six months).
And after much anticipation – “the scariest film ever made!” – I didn’t want to build it up too much, because often that just leads to disappointment. So I didn’t read many reviews and just waited until…..well I was ready to scare the shit out of myself I suppose.
Anyway, the story appears to be fairly simple – Amelia is a widow and single mother, struggling to keep things together as she brings up her difficult, six year old son Samuel and works in a care home – all the time still mourning for her good looking husband who died whilst she was in labour with Samuel.
To make this already unhappy situation just that bit more unhappy, Samuel is an odious child who screeches, kicks and has an obsession with monsters and weapons. He’s not even pleasant to look at – certainly not a cutie pie. I’m sure he’s sweet in real life, but in the film he is a loud, draining child who pulls some damn weird facial expressions. And I wasn’t being shallow when I mentioned the good looking husband earlier. It’s almost like a darkly unfunny joke – good looking husband dies, horrible kid stays.
So the household is not the happiest and has rather a lonely feel. It’s clear that Amelia is struggling and the pair don’t have much help from family or friends. It’s a dark film – both literally and figuratively. There is a huge emphasis on Amelia and Samuel being isolated and alone – I’d even go as far as to say it’s depressing.
But I don’t want to give too much away. I believe most films are best watched with as little knowledge as possible. The less you know, the more surprised you will be! I mean unless you’ve been living in space or inside a submarine for the last six months you will know they find a book and then the creepy, old Mister Babadook makes an appearance in their home, hiding in the shadows and terrifying them both. That’s pretty much the premise but the mother/son relationship is more integral to the plot than I thought it would be.
So did I like The Babadook? Yes, I enjoyed it very much. I was glued to the screen and I thought it was original, very well written and acted – and it appealed to me a lot. But did I think it was really scary? The most terrifying film ever made? No, not particularly.
For me, the film was more horrible than scary. It was even kind of disturbing in places but judging by some of the thoughts I’ve heard and read since watching it, we all have different opinions. The plot, the ending, the ‘scariest film ever’ claims – everyone has their own view and I can understand the diversity. It won’t appeal to everyone and wasn’t your standard scary movie by any means. It almost felt a bit ‘arty’ in places and I can understand why some viewers didn’t enjoy it.
After watching The Babadook, it did play on my mind for a good few days but not in a “I can’t sleep” way – I was more thinking about the story, particularly where the plot was slightly ambiguous. I think that’s why I liked the film anyway, despite not being the terrifying nightmare it promised to be, it was such an original story.
I also found it a very tense film but I can’t honestly be sure if that’s because of the film, or because I was so terrified of being terrified – if that makes sense. A lot of scares are delivered in a different way to the norm but there are still plenty of dark, shadowy night time scenes more reminiscent of classic horror storytelling.
All in all, I’d recommend this film very highly. Any fan of horror – well it goes without saying you should watch this, but don’t expect a run-of-the-mill things that go bump in the night set up. The Babadook has a lot more to offer – if you decide to let him in.