If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.
When a movie receives 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, you take notice. When said movie is an Australian indie flick funded by a Kickstarter, you make sure you watch it! The film follows a single mother, Amelia, who struggling with the loss of her husband who died on the way to the hospital for her to give birth to their son, Sam.
Amelia is trying to raise Sam, who has a hyperactive nature, and has trouble balancing work and home life. She lets him pick a storybook from his shelf, and he returns with ‘Babadook’. She questions where he got it, and he replies that it was on the shelf. Shrugging it off, she begins to read. The further she reads into this seemingly innocent story, she realises how dark and scary the undertones are for a six year old boy. She finishes reading aloud before she gets to the end, and Sam is understandably terrified. After a few terrifying days for Sam, he starts hallucinating and begins seeing “THE BABADOOK” creature around. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour, is forced to medicate him. But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.
This movie is utterly terrifying. It’s pretty unsettling from the beginning, due to the look of the film (very washed out) and the genuine sadness you feel for the mother and son. After the book reading, you begin to feel the same confusing fear of a mother’s worrying about her child’s well-being (especially after he has a seizure after supposedly seeing the monster). This then later morphs into pure terror, as the monster begins to terrorize her as well.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I think what helped me understand it was thinking of the ‘monster’ in the film as a metaphor for mental illness (depression and grief) brought on by Amelia’s husband’s death. Her son legit thinks there is a monster. That’s fine, he’s a kid. The mother is struggling in her own personal life, she rarely has any time for herself with her clingy, troublesome child, and for adult relationships. Even the tag line for the movie can be construed this way. Whether you appear to be okay, or even say to someone that you are okay, you can’t rid yourself of your depression if you don’t talk about it.
Superbly acted and brilliantly written, you won’t regret watching The Babadook (but you may regret watching it at night time).