Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Babadook



It does take me some time to get to the movies all the horror fans are talking about (either good or bad) on occasion. Like with the case of The Witch (2015) and later this film, The Babadook (2014). Quite frankly, I’ve read from opinions differing in terms of reception of The Babadook. Some just consider it “alright” and “not quite worthy of all its praise”. That comes with the territory, though. Films lifted up as “the best horror film of the year” or “it’ll scare the hell out of you” are bound to be tethered to that kind of praise, usually resulting in a mixed bag of indifference or surprise. I fall in the latter. I flat liked The Babadook. A lot. Did it scare the hell out of me like William Friedkin? Of course not. Does that mean it isn’t a film that left a distinct impression with me? Not the case at all. It did.

**** / *****


I do think its purpose as a film describing a manifestation of grief is right on the mark. It shows actress Essie Davis (quite a rollercoaster this role demanded of varying degrees of pain, emotion, strife, apathy, etc.) enduring a difficult trial in her life as her demanding son (attention seeking at every turn) expects much while she just wants to hide under the covers and away from the world at large if allowed. But that is not what life often allows. It doesn’t just seem to give us the option to closet away everything and be to ourselves. Sure to be all alone might offer such an opportunity, as many loners seem to prefer that. But in the case of Amelia, that isn’t much of an option. She was pregnant with Samuel (Noah Wiseman) when her husband, Oskar (Benjamin Winspear), was killed in a car accident. She relives that day in her dreams when not awaken by her son as he undergoes the typical childhood fear of something under the bed or in the closet. He has to be around her quite often. He needs her devout attention so she can await the results of his magic tricks and to read him stories at bedtime. He has his weapons of protection against the monsters in his room, in his home. He must protect her and himself. She never sees the monsters, and at present is simply exhausted from the search of them, the visits to school where his weapons could be detrimental to other students, and his constant requests of her attention, “Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?” I have read from many who have seen this that they’d love to have shut him up…it is that kind of attention seeking, so her plight was understandable.

So Babadook beyond just a boogeyman introduced to harm a mother and her son is presented as so much more. He could be her building grief becoming this all-consuming monster that has now made itself known. Sam sees it in his mom. She tells him about how she’s desired to crush him. The dog’s neck is snapped by her as the barking drew out the Babadook. She could hear him, eventually see him everywhere, and it has now consumed her to the point where Babadook *is* her. So Sam will try and coax it from his mom so she can be herself again. But perhaps once she has faced this Babadook (the grief she continues to bury away, concealing it to the point that her face reveals the taxing demands of doing so), there will be a freedom not anticipated. Carrying around baggage such as loss and not dealing with it any healthy way (telling others, sharing it with others, addressing it instead of trying to ignore it) has produced a monster that must be dealt with. And no matter how much she tries to avoid the Babadook, it calls for her. It wants her. Oskar is even used to draw her to it. Repressed and depressed, Amelia is presented as in a fog, her eyes weighed and her face haggard. Eventually we see Amelia in outrage. We see her enraged. We see her at the point where Sam might be in danger. Hands around a throat, overcome with the Babadook, Amelia might commit a misdeed she certainly could never come back from. So Amelia will have to resist the Babadook. Black goo on a floor, deposited from the mouth, Amelia might think this is her way of ridding herself of the Babadook. But Sam knows that the Babadook doesn’t just leave. Does grief ever truly just leave for good? Sure the film shows Amelia holding it off in her basement (a place to maintain the grief without fully getting rid of it), feeding it earthworms, but that is just the boogeyman tendencies of a filmmaker wanting us to see a monster held in check. So Amelia, having finally dealt with her grief, can placate her son in a positive way. She can encourage him with his magic tricks and listen to him, give him a proper birthday party, and allow Sam to fight his monsters.

There’s the expected Family Protective Services reps coming by to check on the domestic situation (right before the Babadook truly sends Amelia off the deep end), and Sam doing something impulsive (pushing a cousin who was bullying him about his dead father), providing Amelia the right circumstances to go  over the edge. There’s the claustrophobia of seeing two concealed in the home as the Babadook rears its ugly head. There’s the visit to the police station to file a report against the “predator” seemingly tormenting her and Sam (with the police mockingly rolling their eyes at her). The Babadook will have to be confronted and defeated on their own. And it’ll take both Amelia and Sam to do it.

Obviously, the film’s bread and butter is the manifestation of the Babadook and the book that gives it form. The storybook is Grimm and Seuss wrapped in a boogeyman veneer. It keeps children up at night and feeds the paranoia of fear in what lies in the dark. So pretty much exactly what I appreciate in my horror movies. Seeing Babadook everywhere, whether a suit and coat hanging on a rack in the house, against a wall, or at the police station. The book continuing to show up and torment Amelia. Its presence is pervasive. This creation is certain to work its way into pop culture, an iconic image in the genre.

Amelia is a nurse who works at an old folks’ home. She visits a friend who sometimes looks after her son, plagued with Parkinson’s. She uses a vibrator one night to give herself some momentarily pleasure before Sam once again intrudes upon her idyll. Sam can be a handful. His tics. His hugging and need for constant closeness. His inability to filter his thoughts, and his blunt speak. Amelia’s situation is given a spotlight and I think we can sympathize. This isn’t an easy life. But she’s not the first nor last to deal with something like this. Life can be a Babadook…

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Sbut
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Jtm 2

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Ghspo

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Enl

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Cbi1

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Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

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In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
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Vyr

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Sh fr

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Vlov

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f133

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Edpos

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Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

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Kife

Kife
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Meg

Meg
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ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

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exor1

exor1
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Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
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In the kitchen, The Shape

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exc4

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Ps56

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Hun

Hun
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Ps89

Ps89

Cof

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pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
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wb

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WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
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h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
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Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
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Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

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SRW

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Frere and dummy

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Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

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Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
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Bmate

Bmate

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Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

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