I know I’m behind by watching The Babadook so recently, but I wasn’t ashamed of that until I sat down and watched The Babadook. I had been told that the movie was well done, very scary and had a creepy human-ish monster as its antagonist. I didn’t know it was an Australian movie, I didn’t know it had a female director, and I didn’t know it would turn out to be a another great example of horror without jump scares.
What I was most excited to learn was that The Babadook uses it’s monster to represent Amelia’s (the main character) grief. Within the film it is a real creature that haunts the family and almost destroys their life, but as a viewer you watch as she is on the brink of shambles after seven years of raising her son alone after her husband is decapitated on the way to the hospital to give birth. Her son Sam begins to act out citing a monster as the reason for his hand built weapons and bad behavior, his subsequent removal from his school begins the movies downward spiral.
As Amelia spends more time at home with her son and night after night loses sleep to his imagination they read a giant mcguffin of a bedtime story containing the titular evil. The transition over to the supernatural horror is steady and takes it’s time, showing The Babadook mostly in glimpses. The clearest view is through the widowed neighbors window, maybe everyone has their own Babadook?
The Babadook’s increasing influence on Amelia’s actions runs perfectly parallel to mundane troubles like her sister’s increased distance and unwillingness to help along with child services inquiring into Sam’s removal from school. Everything that happens around Amelia sets the stage for suspense and sadness so that when the babadook does finally appear it doesn’t need to be a gorey monster, an oddly dressed man with pointed hands accomplishes horror that is much more personal and debilitating.
I appreciated the epilogue of the movie and its statement that people will always have their grief with them, loss is a powerful emotion and when it isn’t addressed it can consume you. If you can take control and learn to face it as Amelia does hopefully you can move on, maybe feed it worms if you’re generous.