Tuesday, October 06, 2015
A troubled young six year old named Samuel is taken out of school after exhibiting extreme behavioral problems. His father died in a car accident driving his mother to the hospital and this death resulted in a devastating and lingering effect on his mother, which likely contributes to Samuel’s volatile disposition. One evening he discovers a mysterious children’s book on his shelf called Mister Babadook and asks his mother to read it to him. Amelia is mortified to learn that the book contains dark and disturbing content such as “what you see underneath (your bed) will make you wish that you were dead”.
Samuel becomes convinced that the Babadook is stalking him and he prepares to defend himself with weapons and booby traps Home Alone-style. It’s a superbly acted film and it's easy to sympathize with Samuel because he's so convincingly terrified. You also sympathize with Amelia, who has not coped well with her grief. Constantly she struggles to keep it together but simply can't. She frequently lashes out at Samuel, saying hurtful things like "why can't you be normal?" before becoming overcome with guilt.
The Babaook himself is instantly iconic and sinister looking. He lives in the shadows, moves quickly and delights in Samuel's fear. Unlike other horror movie monsters who will go away if you stop believing in them, the more you deny the Babadook, the stronger he gets. Or, as the age-old rebuttal to the accusation "whoever smelt it dealt it" goes - the more you deny it, the more you supplied it. I wouldn't be surprised if this spawns a sequel or 4.