“Happy Birthday, sweetheart.”
Story: A woman who lost her husband the day her son was born tries to move on with her life. She’s failing. But perhaps reading her son a bedtime story will help. What’s this “Mr. Babadook” book, and how did it get in our house? Ba-ba-ba… dook! Dook! DOOOOOKH!
Scares: Plenty. This film is not only creepy as hell, its got psychological terror to boot.
Splat factor: Practically zero. Okay, one decapitation. But otherwise, this film focuses on the chills rather than the cerise.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Nup. Well okay, not really. Pizza for everybody!
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Wholly original.
Trick or Treat?: Atmospheric, claustrophobic, effective, and scary as hell.
ZOMG it’s Miss Fisher! Oh how I love Essie Davis. And while I’m a huge, gigantic fan of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, there’s nary a whiff of Davis’ popular madcap flapper here, and that’s a testament to her ability as an actor. It’s a sin Essie Davis didn’t win a single award for this film; her performance in The Babadook is astounding.
Then there’s her strange, borderline off-putting, young son who sees monsters are all around. Like Cassandra, nobody believes him when it really happens. He’s so odd that nobody can tell the difference between his typical idiosyncrasies and the fact that he’s really seen a monster. Young Noah Wiseman does an incredible job with the part. There are tons of actors who wish they had half his talent. Tons and tons.
What I love most about this film is the question it plants in your head about the real horror here. Is there a monster? Or is it just a figment of their tired, overworked imaginations? Neither one has “slept in weeks”, so there’s a cool real/not real idea here. When Amelia’s jaw aches, you know things are getting worse. But is it TMJ from the stress finally getting to her, or something even more sinister? My heart broke for the overextended mother, and I was creeped out by what was happening at the same time.
Writer/director Jennifer Kent touches on many aspects of modern life, and how one small tweak can have us all falling to pieces. TV as sleep replacement. Today’s lack of personal connection. But mostly, she focuses on single parents, having to shoulder it all. When it gets to be too much, they’re not supposed to ask for help. Supermom! This film shows that’s not possible. And the results in The Babadook become literally horrific. But that’s not all…and I’ll leave it at that. Pleasant dreams, everyone…
Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins.