Movie Review: The Babadook

“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook,” reads Amelia to her son Samuel from the crisp pages of black and white pop-up book titled Mr. Babadook.

A single mother who lost her husband in a car accident, Amelia’s mental stress is visually displayed through her baggy eyes and wild hair, and accentuated by her son’s erratic behavior. The Babadook character, with its black overcoat, a tophat atop ruffled hair, fingers like knives, and a freakishly disturbing grin is much more than just a monster hiding under the bed.

The Babadook, directed and written by Australian actor Jennifer Kent, is perhaps one the best horror movies of this generation. It is not just another haunted house story where the child first notices eerie happenings around the house, and the mother-figure, although weary at first, empathizes with the child, while the father-figure is skeptical about it all, until it is too late. In The Babadook, there is no lead male role, except for Samuel.

[one_third][The Babadook] feeds on her stress and fears, and heightens them.[/one_third]

As Samuel’s behavior becomes more unsettling, driving family friends away, Amelia finds herself alone, which is when the Babadook begins to manifest itself more violently. It feeds on her stresses and fears and heightens them.

As a whole, the movie brings to light the stresses of single parenthood. In an interview with The Guardian, Kent said, “I wanted to talk about the need to face the darkness in ourselves and in our lives. That was the core idea for me, to take a woman who’d really run away from a terrible situation for many years and have to face it. The horror is really just a byproduct.” Throughout the first half of the movie, Samuel is an annoying character. His constant outbursts about the Babadook nearly drive Amelia mad, causing the audience to sympathize with her. However, one’s sympathy for Amelia slowly shifts as her anger boils to the surface, brought up by the Babadook. The movie shows the power that fear can have over our lives if we let it control us.

Because the movie is an independent film, it did not premiere in local theaters. The Babadook is now available for rent on iTunes and I highly recommend it.

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