“Slow week for movies. The new releases I had on my calendar were all limited to only NYC/LA. Luckily the Brattle was having one of its area premiers, showing The Babadook. This film was already getting a reputation as being utterly terrifying and incredibly well done. I have to concur.
The film is about an overtaxed single mother, dealing with her hyperactive and overly imaginitive son. He’s scared of pretty much everything, and is in constant need of attention and reassurance. One night a mysterious book appears on his shelf, telling the tale of Mister Babadook, an unfriendly creature that will come for him in the night. His mother tries to calm him, but before long, she too gives into the nightmare that may have actually invaded their house.
As a horror film, this was expertly done. It wasn’t just a single gimmick, which is the problem that plagues a lot of horror films. Oh no run from the scary man with a knife/gun/chainsaw! Oh no, ghosts are gonna jump out at you as you walk thru the house/graveyard/catacombs! Oh no weird things are happening in the hotel room/school/theme park! Oh no, don’t get bit by the zombie/werewolf/Megan Fox! This film started off as a creepy creature lurking in the house, and they did nail that. The sounds, the inexplicable appearances of certain objects, the mystery, all of it very good for a superficial scare. Just thinking about the sound of ba ba ba dook dook DOOK is freaking me the \m/ out. But then it went deeper. It played on more fears, some of which are deeper or more psychological. Fear of not being able to handle your child. Fear of losing your child. Fear of losing control over your own actions. Fear of losing your sanity.
There was also some foreshadowing involving the family pet that had me on edge thru the whole thing. Simply for that, I don’t know if I could watch this movie again. It reminded me of a dream a few months back that I’d killed one of the cats as part of a Hunger Games meets Saw scenario. It left me with a horribly sick feeling for weeks. Being afraid of seeing that on screen brought back all those icky feelings. But at the same time, that’s a pretty impressive testament to this film. Sure, there’s lots of movies I feel I don’t ever need to watch again. Usually, it’s because their bad. It’s rare that it’s because the film is too effective at what it sets out to accomplish. In this case, to reuse a phrase from earlier, freaking me the \m/ out
The Babadook – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”