First a lesson in pronunciation. Little Samuel says it best. Think Yabba-dabba. Or like a sheep. Baaa Baaa dook (like book).
Thanks to the magic of video-on-demand, we in the US don't have to wait until November 28th to watch the magic that is The Babadook. Magic may not be the word. It's genius.
It is so rare that a film lives up to the hype and this one in some ways exceeded the hype, kicked my ass and I'm going to watch it again—soon. I viewed this one with my teenage daughter to get two perspectives. Okay—I have to settle for one perspective because she peeked from behind a fluffy pillow the whole time and ran to bed when it was over, opting to sleep with her little sister.
So, well done Jennifer Kent, well done. By the way, Mizzzz Kent...who are you and where have you been hiding? Please make more films with the same care and attention to causing therapy that you did with this movie.
It has been along time since I felt uncomfortable after a movie ended...but each time I woke last night, I cringed—worried for just a moment that I might catch a glimpse of Mister Babadook or worse...hear his awful voice. B-baba dook doook dooooooook. It really makes my skin crawl just typing that shit. Gah!
Spoiler section: A widowed woman and her son are battling more odds than they should. Our boy Samuel (Noah Wiseman—who is a force in this movie) has the distinction of knowing his father, Oskar (Benjamin Winspear), died in an auto accident while driving his mother to the hospital to give birth to him. That's a lot of crazy to tote around when you're only six. He is a sad, but also creative and loving boy. He just wants to be accepted...he wants the father he never met back...but there are also monsters in his life. These monsters keep him up at night and therefore keep his mother, Amelia (Essie Davis), up as well. While they lay awake, she reads books to him. The longer they go without sleep, the worse the monsters get.
Samuel is acting up in school, scaring his friends and being a general nuisance.
To make things worse, when Samuel picks the book for bedtime reading, it's one neither he nor his mother have seen before. It has a red cover and is a pop-up book entitled Mister Babadook and there is a poem and art inside that will make your skin crawl (I would transcribe it here, but that would just be cruel—you'd poop yourself, for real). It also has blank pages in the back that fill in as Mom's terror grows, making things worse. Stupid scary book. I can't wait until I can buy a copy.
He tells his friends about the babadook even though mom forbit it and now Samuel is taken out of school. Amelia alienates herself and her son from the few friends and family members they have.
They go to the doctor and she all but begs for sedatives so they can sleep. The doctor recommends a psychiatrist for the boy and mom agrees. I agree as well—the kid is wack. Unfortunately, there is a two week wait for his appointment (stupid HMOs) and although the doc gives her the medicine, the creature attacks and things start to get really wicked. Samuel makes a promise to his mother that he will protect her if she will protect him. She agrees, but it is a promise that will take her to places she doesn't want to go—as promised in the book—and maybe even over the edge.
I thought the ending was clever. A lot of folks won't like it, but I challenge them to make it better (and not cliché). I was happy it wasn't a jump scare that said, “Look at me! I'm going to be a sequel!”
Just remember this little ditty: If it's in a word or it's in a look, you can't get rid of the babadook.
I'm not convinced the Babadook isn't as much a real demon as it is the manifestation of Amelia's inner demons viewed through the eyes of an almost seven-year-old boy. It doesn't matter. Either way is just as horrifying.
In a word (or in a look!) this film is brilliant. Essie Davis is a breath of fresh air playing vulnerable, terrified, sad, exhausted, funny, as well as monstrous, menacing, scary and evil with equal skill. She is mesmerizing. You will feel sad with her, lost with her, you will laugh with her and be terrified by her by the end of the movie...it is really her movie. She has to share much of the screen time with young Noah Wiseman and he is up to the task. They really make you believe they are mother and son—and that monsters are real. Academy award nods from me. If only I was a member of the academy.
Filmmakers—More films like this, please! Old school scares that last. Actual scary. Not jump scares happening to vapid thirty-year-old teenagers while they have sex in a cabin. Give us characters to care about. Give us originality. I'm not sure there was a beat in the film that wasn't realistic or nerve-wracking.
Visuals-- clever, clean, simple, effective.
Acting-- near perfection
Story-- near perfection
Sound-- dude, I'm still hearing that horrible voice in my head, “b-baba dook dook doooooook.”
Watch it. And best of luck getting to sleep.
4.5 out of 5
For more of my film reviews, go to HorrorgeeksMagazine.com.