Review by Lucia Santiago Dantés. The Babadook is one of those movies at the edge of insanity and horror. It’s hard to tell if everything is inside the characters’ imagination or if it is a true horrific paranormal event. The film debuted at Sundance Film Festival very early in 2014, where it had a good reception. Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook is about Samuel (Noah Wiseman) a boy with behavioral problems and his mother Amelia (Essie Davis) a widow who works in a retirement house. They both live alone since Amelia’s husband was killed in a car accident the same day Samuel was born several years ago. Like many children, Samuel is afraid of the monsters under the bed or hidden in the closet, as the doctor in the film says “Too committed to the monster theory” to the point he is constantly inventing new weapons to fight them, as he prefers to confront his fears and protect his mother. if this was not enough, Samuel is also a magician aficionado. Amelia tries to do her best as a mother, but failing drastically as her mental health deteriorates as a result of Samuel’s erratic behavior growing stronger. Still she keeps trying, no matter how tired she is, she makes a effort and reads a nice bed story to Samuel. One night he asks her to read a pop-up storybook he found in his shelf. “Mister Babadook” a book about a supernatural being that once someone is aware about its existence, will torment it indefinitely. Amelia is scared and knowing his son prefers to hide it but it’s too late, a strange presence is already inside the house. The film has 2 readings. One is the usual horror story where there is something happening and the Babadook is real, at least in the cinematic world created. The second reading is about two disturbed human beings with schizophrenia. There are several sequences where we can notice these signs: Amelia watching bugs crawling out of the fridge, Samuel having a seizure in the car when he thinks the Babadook is attacking him, also the fact that although there was a book, when Amelia goes to the police she says she burned the book so there’s no evidence that the book in question really existed. The Babadook incidents always occur when there’s nobody around. And most of all, none of their relatives want to be around them. Even Samuel is pinpointed at school as a kid with unusual behavior so Amelia decides to remove him from school instead of looking for help either for the boy or for herself. Related to this incident is the fact that social services arrive home and Samuel explains his Dad got killed the same day he was born. The kid as many, is brutally honest but we can see a hint of guiltiness on his persona. This reminded me a little of Guillermo Del Toro “Pan’s Labyrinth” where the storyline follows the same edge of sanity. You could either say that all is part of the child’s imagination and soften Ofelia’s Death, or you can go with the fantastic horror story and believe Ofelia came back to the world she belonged. In the Babadook, having two disturbed persons living alone together is specially dangerous if they’re both are feeding back their issues; and that’s why I liked this film so much, as I said, it’s just on the edge of both worlds. The Australian film was written and directed by Jennifer Kent and for some, it is considered one of the best horror films of 2014. I would agree just for the fact that reality is sometimes more horrific that fiction. For The Babadook check the trailer here.
Now this Jennifer Kent’s first feature film but did you know there was a short film she wrote that was based on the same subjects? It’s called Monster and you can check it out here.