A widowed mother has been battling with the pain of her husband’s death and raising her emotionally troubled son on her own. One night during story time, the son picks a book off the shelf that the mother has never seen before. It starts out as an innocent nursery rhyme, but quickly turns violent and only fuels her son’s obsession with monsters. Soon the mother starts seeing and feeling a sinister presence all around her and it’s driven by pain and death.
I was drawn to this Australian film because I had seen it on so many top 10 of 2014 horror lists. Many people even had it as their favorite horror film of 2014. I always try to avoid reading reviews for movies until after I see them because I want to be able to form my own opinion about them. I was able to mostly avoid reading reviews for this film, but it was hard not to hear all the hype surrounding it. This one definitely lived up to the hype. While it is not the scariest film I have seen it was definitely original, creepy, and gave me goosebumps on multiple occasions. If I had done a top 10 of 2014 list, this movie would for sure have been on it.
There were so many successful elements to this film. One of them was the acting. Both Essie Davis, who plays the mother, and Noah Wiseman, who plays the son, were brilliant. You really believe that Davis is the grieving wife who, even after almost seven years, just can’t get over the horrible accident that took the life of her husband. Wiseman’s character, throughout most of the film, is quite possibly the most annoying kid in the world. His character is very disturbed and clearly in need of some help, but of course his mother just brushes it off and pretends that everything is normal. The mother most likely adds to his behavioral problems by projecting her own issues on him. What amazes me the most is the transformation that both characters seem to take during the film. The mother goes from being rather meek and doing what she can to get by, to slowly losing her mind and becoming more aggressive to the point of even being violent. The son also transforms to being almost unbearable, to this sweet child that will do anything to keep his mother safe.
Another successful element is that the Babadook is some unknown entity that creeps it’s way further and further into the lives of this family. You never really get a good look at it and you never really know what the Babadook is, but that adds to the eeriness of the entire film. I’m sure others have made this conclusion, but I saw the Babadook as being a representation of the mother’s grief. Throughout the film it is clear that the mother is trying so hard to avoid speaking or even thinking about her husband’s death. It is mostly apparent in the fact that she has never celebrated her son’s birthday on the actual day (the husband died in an accident while driving his wife to give birth to their son). Her grief is something that has always been right on the edge and when her son is screaming “don’t let it in” they are not only referring to the Babadook but also telling her not to let her grief in. Once she lets the Babadook in she is letting her grief consume her and slowly drive her mad.
Even the ending, which may seem strange the first time you see it, is a representation of this woman’s grief. I interpreted it as her finally confronting her grief after realizing that her love for her son is more important than dwelling on an accident she had no control over. She defeats the Babadook after the confrontation because it no longer has control over her; she has control over it and has accepted the past. The reason it is kept in her basement is because, as the book says, “you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” Her grief will always be something present in her mind, but it will no longer take over her entire life.
This film was really one of the best movies I have seen in a while. It had amazing acting, a creative storyline, and it still was able to give me the heebie jeebies. I also really loved the fact that it was a horror film with a deeper meaning about how people deal with grief after the death of a loved one, which is something I think many people can relate to. Using a very creepy character from a children’s storybook that comes to life is quite possibly the most horrifying way to represent grief in a film. I would recommend this film to everyone. It is definitely a film that I think would appeal to even non-horror fans just because of the deeper meaning. And be sure that you don’t watch it alone.
OVERALL RATING: 9/10