The Babadook (2014)
dir. Jennifer Kent
A mother loses her husband and gives birth to her son on the same day. Flash forward six years and she hasn’t moved on – she’s holding down a rather depressing job at a nursing home and attempting to raise a very needy and loud child on her own. Then they find a book titled Mr. Babadook and make the mistake of reading it before bedtime one evening.
I’m torn about this film. In one respect, what scary scenes it has are done better than I expected. The suspense builds from the initial reading of the storybook to questioning if the family is completely insane. The audio cues and spoken “Babadook” by the creature are pretty creepy and when it showed the creature for the first time, I thought “man, that’s cool looking”. Unfortunately, that gets pushed to the side for a lot of first-person camera shots from the monster’s point of view. Thus, we get close-ups of the actors looking directly at the audience with goofy horror faces instead of the cool monster effects. That takes me out of the film.
Also, while the characterization is fine, I wouldn’t want to hang out with these people. The kid is very high strung and whiny (as he is supposed to be) and his mother is worn out and angry (which given her stress levels seems normal), but instead of making me feel for them, I didn’t care what happened as long as the kid stayed quiet. The first half-hour of the film is oddly like being left in the car by your friend to take care of his sugar-filled kid while he waits in line at the bank. Then the creepy stuff starts happening and it almost makes you forget about the annoying characters. I know there’s an underlying story about the Babadook being a part of the mother that comes out of her suppressing her desires to do things she wants because she has to take care of her kid, but I’m not going into that as it’ll spoil the whole flick.
Overall, I’d say check it out. The scares are minimal, but they are good. The cast is annoying but believable. And the Babadook (when you get to see it) is sufficiently creepy.