Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Strange Review: The Babadook

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I wanted to do a video, and in all honesty, I did a video but the footage was crappy (last time I use a low light filter) so unfortunately I won't be posting videos. That begin said, my wife and I recently watched this movie and I wanted to discuss it because this is one of those "Take The Time" kinda movies. Movies that require a 1st, 2nd & 3rd viewing to really "get it". "The Babadook" is a movie about a woman named Amelia and her son Samuel. Amelia lost her husband in a tragic car accident seven years ago on the day Samuel was born. Samuel is an EXTREMELY hyper active child who is obsessed with monsters and sees them everywhere they go. When Samuel chooses a story for his mom to read to him at night, Samuel selects a book she's never seen before "Mister Babadook", a book about a boogeyman type creature that later goes on to terrorize them at every opportunity. So in case you haven't seen it, I encourage you to check it out as this review will contain spoilers.So let's dive into "The Babadook".

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So right off the bat let me say that this movie did NOT scare me. I am not saying that because I can't be scared, after all "28 Days Later" scared the living crap outta me, the first 15 minutes of "Dawn Of The Dead" scared me completely and "The Ring" is still one of my favorite scary movies, and don't get be started on "Battle Royale" (the manga) & "Misery" (the book). I wasn't scared because lately I've discovered something that surprised the living crap outta me, I apparently have a high constitution when it comes to horror movies. I've heard people constantly praise the "Paranormal Activity" series as being scary as well as "Insidious" (a movie that, the more I thought about it the more I realized it's pretty horrible movie) and although I really enjoyed "Sinister", it didn't scare me.

And before you start, NO! I am NOT a sucker for blood, guts and gore. While I understand that violence has it's place in horror (especially with the examples I listed above), I find carnography in horror movies to be pretty lame and I've written an article explaining that and I prefer my horror movies to have a much more emotionally impactful effect. I always judge horror movies based on the proposition of if I'll be able to sleep that night. I may enjoy a horror movie even if it didn't scare me, but I have a hard time doing so when I'm not scared. Which brings me to "The Babadook", and while my wife was pretty bothered by it and was legitimately scared, I on the other hand was not, but I did enjoy this movie. And even stranger is that we both had a different idea about what we watched. Ideas that I'll explain.

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Although this did legitimately creep me out.

So full disclosure, I did watch a review of "The Babadook" courtesy of Chris Stuckman, but as Stuckman does, he didn't reveal too much about what exactly the movie was about, except for he did mention the movie was about grief as it's main theme, no argument from me on that point. The thing is my point of contention stems from the idea that I was lead to believe that The Babadook wasn't real, and while I have evidence to believe that The Babadook wasn't real, I also have evidence to the contrary. But before I get into that, I suppose I should give my thoughts on the movie proper. I enjoyed "The Babadook", it was fun, it was interesting, very well done, written in an interesting fashion and FANTASTIC acting (especially on the parts of Essie Davis & Noah Wiseman, Amelia & Samuel, respectively). That being said, "The Babadook" can be summed up with this clip:

Add a boogeyman and that's pretty much "The Babadook".

A little humor, but I had to as, despite the fact that I started to like Noah towards the end of the movie, he GREATLY irritated me throughout. I sympathized with Amelia, especially when Noah barged in on her while she was using her vibrator (that's rough). But for the most part, rooting for anyone was pretty difficult in this movie. Sure, you don't want to see a kid get killed in a movie, but I liked the fact that the movie had the balls to go there. And while Sam is a kid, he was hardly incapable of dealing with his deranged mother towards the end, what with his engenius ball launching device and that elaborate trap he set up in the basement, not to mention he was also able to tie his mother up pretty well while she was out cold. Sam was very capable while Amelia was just deranged. So the tension wasn't exactly there for me as the movie did an excellent job of establishing how capable Sam was to handle the potential threat of a monster attack.

So about The Babadook, is he real or is he not? That is the question. The reason I believe The Babadook is not is because of a VERY brief line Amelia said while among the other women at her niece's party. Amelia briefly mentioned that she's a writer, specifically children's books. Now whether or not this was a legitimate career, who knows, but possibly Amelia may have written "Mister Babadook" herself and just never finished it. In her massive sleep deprivation, she forgot she had written it as more and more things have piled on top of her, raising a child by herself, dealing with her husband's death, recovering from the accident. Sam could have found the book downstairs and put it on the shelf, we know he has a habit of going down there. This explains why both of them have seen the book, When The Book is returned to her reassembled, well she did that and also added the extra pages herself. When did she have time to do that? Damned if I know, but more than likely in a fugue state after staying up all night.

However, the reassembled book could just be her imagination, as was seeing The Babadook's costume in the police station and seeing him in that old lady's house as well as on her ceiling. After all, Amelia imagined the cockroaches coming out of the wall, she imagined the roaches crawling on her while she was driving. Notice, she was alone for these incidents and therefore no one can really vouch for The Babadook actually harassing her. In the ending, after facing down The Babadook, it flees to the basement and remains trapped there, with Amelia going down there to feed it. A few things, when The Babadook attempts to attack her again, she says to it, "It's alright, it's alright, it's alright...shhhhhhhh" to calm him. Why would this work? After all, The Babadook has been described as a pretty nasty character, and what does she mean by "It's alright."? Simple, she's not talking to The Babadook, she's talking to her subconscious, she's telling herself that it's alright, that dealing with Sam will be alright.

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Notice, The Babadook retreats to the basement...where her husband's things are, a place that she doesn't go very often for the wrong reasons and now she's not going for the right reasons, she's trying to move on. This is made clear when she tells Sam that she wishes he had died and not her husband, and The Babadook, impersonating her husband, asks for Sam. Amelia was attempting to fulfill her wish by killing her son herself. So in the end, she retreats to the basement periodically to assure herself that can raise Sam and that it's alright. Saying this to The Babadook, doesn't make much sense. The reason why I hold to The Babadook being completely imaginary is because his presence in the movie is superfluous. He's a creature that evil acts can be blamed on, sort of like that old children's book "The Monster At The End Of This Book", where the Grover discovers that he himself is the monster, Amelia discovers that she herself is The Babadook.

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And The Babadook doesn't actually do anything to be perfectly honest (YES, I do know about the scene at the stairs, we'll get to that) all he does is appear here and there and taunt Amelia, notice, JUST Amelia. Sam himself has not seen The Babadook, only his mother being deranged. Amelia has seen The Babadook, JUST Amelia. One could argue that The Babadook convinced Amelia to try and kill Sam, but that's a sentiment that's been looming for a long time, and it's only after a car accident (the event that triggered Amelia's misery) does she officially snap. She didn't really need The Babadook to push her over the edge. Furthermore, The Babadook is a shared delusion between the two of them, Samuel so wholly believes in monsters that Amelia under massive sleep deprivation and stress started to believe that a legitimate monster was in fact harassing her.

At the end of the movie when The Babadook is flying towards her she tells him to get out. I believe this section of the movie takes place largely in her mind. She's still battered and broken on the basement floor and now after fighting against the urge to kill her son, now she has to confront the overwhelming grief she's been running from, and she does. This explains why legitimate supernatural things are happening, like Sam being dragged upstairs and the like. These events are taking place in her mind, not in real life and the film doesn't spoon feed this to you, but there is a lot of imagery to suggest that The Babadook isn't real, specifically an image of a wolf literally getting into sheep's clothing (symbolizing Amelia) and the fact that Amelia seems The Babadook constantly on television.

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If The Babadook is in fact real then I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this movie, because my enjoyment of this movie is based on the idea that it may have been way more clever than anyone gave it credit for, in characterizing the grief, pain and stress of avoiding a loss in the form of a manipulative monster called The Babadook, as opposed to an actual monster who manipulates you into killing a loved one, one of those is actually more horrifying than the other. The fact is if Amelia didn't really wish Sam dead, then it was The Babadook just playing with her emotions, but Amelia actually did wish Sam dead then she's really villain. Hence why I believe The Babadook to be a completely imaginary figure. Those are my thoughts, let me know what you think and I'll catch you guys later.

1 comment:

  1. Totally aggree, I believe it is more about the breakdown of the mother than about a monster, and if you think like that, it is defibnetely a better story this way.