Now we come to one of the movies that was an actual gift from a friend. Now I will admit that I had not seen this movie before it was given to me but I had heard of it. Well…that’s not entirely true. I have seen a scene from this movie on the internet several times over the years. See, one of the more famous memes on the internet, which tends to get edited to match any situation that it can fit, is from this movie. So anytime you see the meme of the mother turning around in the car and yelling at her kid to be normal, and the kid is sitting there screaming, that is from today’s movie, The Babadook. Now, let’s see if the rest of the movie is as memorable.
The plot: Amelia Vanek is woken from a nightmare by her son Samuel coming into her room, worried about a monster. After searching his room and finding nothing there, she reads to him in her bed and he promises to kill the monster when he sees it. In the morning, Amelia is woken by a loud noise and she heads downstairs to find Samuel practicing with the weapon he had made. Amelia gets Samuel dressed and takes him to school while she goes to work but she is soon called back to his school, as he brought one of his weapons to school with him. After leaving the school, the go to the market before heading to the park, where they meet up with Amelia’s sister Claire and her daughter Ruby. While the kids play, Claire tells Amelia that Ruby changed her mind about what sort of birthday party she wants, as she doesn’t want Samuel there and Amelia takes offence but tries to not show it. After Samuel gives them a scare by climbing to the top of the swing set, Amelia takes him home, speaking with their neighbor Mrs. Roach when they get there. That night, Samuel wants Amelia to read him a book called Mister Babadook and as she reads the story, Samuel becomes convinced that the Babadook is the monster he keeps seeing. Amelia over sleeps the next morning and after sending Samuel to stay with Claire, she heads off to work, where a coworker named Robbie starts flirting with her. When Amelia’s shift ends, she finds that she has 10 missed calls from Claire and rushes there to find Samuel sitting in the driveway. Claire says that Samuel has been scaring Ruby with all of his talk about the Babadook and when Amelia goes to admonish him, he throws a firecracker at her feet. When they get home, Amelia begins cooking dinner but gets upset when she finds that Samuel had grabbed the key to the basement and gone down there, as that is where she is keeping her late husband’s things. During dinner, Amelia finds a shard of glass in her soup and when she check’s Samuel’s and finds nothing, he tells her the Babadook did it. Later that night, Samuel sees something in his wardrobe and pulls it down, scaring Amelia when it hits the floor. When Amelia goes to check on him, she finds him hiding under his bed, repeatedly saying “Don’t let it in”, and after calming him down, she takes the book and rips the pages up before throwing it away. Amelia goes to bed but she starts hearing strange sounds like the door opening. The next day, they head to Ruby’s birthday party and as Claire and some of the other mothers are talking, Amelia mocks their rough lives compared to those of a single mother. Later, Claire and Amelia are talking alone and when Amelia comments about how Claire never comes around their home, Claire tells her that it’s because she can’t stand Samuel. Meanwhile, Samuel is sitting in Ruby’s tree house while all of the other girls are watching the clown. Ruby confronts him and teases him about not having a dad and Samuel pushes her out of the tree house, causing her to fall and break her nose. Amelia takes Samuel home and as they are driving, he is constantly screaming for her attention, then starts yelling at something next to him to get out, before suddenly he starts having seizures. Amelia takes him to the doctor and as she speaks with him, she begs him for some sedatives to help Samuel sleep at night. The next day, Amelia is woken up by a knocking on the door and when she looks outside, she finds the Babadook book sitting on the doorstep. Amelia takes it inside and finds all of the ripped pages have been repaired, but some of the pictures have changed, showing herself being infected by the Babadook and killing their dog, Samuel, and herself. Amelia burns the book, thinking that will be the end of it, but she receives a phone call, with the voice on the other end saying “Ba-ba-dook-Dook-DOOK!”. Amelia goes to talk to the police and report a stalker but while they don’t seem inclined to believe her, she notices the Babadook’s hat, coat, and gloves hanging from a coat hook behind the desk and she quickly leaves. Amelia begins having more hallucinations, just as some people from the Department of Community Services show up to check on her pulling Samuel from his school. That night, Amelia is in bed when she hears a scratching at the bedroom door, just before it opens and something shuffles inside. Amelia hides under the covers but when she peaks out, she sees the Babadook on the ceiling and it lunges towards her. Amelia begins having more and more hallucinations and finds herself becoming withdrawn and isolated, taking her frustrations out on Samuel by yelling at him for disobeying her. After going out for lunch one day, Amelia sees bugs crawling all over her before hearing the Babadook clawing at the car and calling out, causing her to get in a wreck. As Amelia’s mood continues to deteriorate, she begins getting angrier at Samuel, using a knife to cut the phone line when he tried calling their neighbor and then brandishing it at him moments later. That night, Amelia has a hallucination of her husband oskar and as she embraces him, he asks her to give him the boy, revealing it is really the Babadook. Amelia attempts to flee from it but the it ends up catching up to her and possessing her. Later that night, Amelia is sitting in the chair watching TV, with a frightened Samuel watching her from the top of the steps when their dog Bugsy races down the steps and begins barking at her. Amelia grabs Bugsy, killing him by breaking it’s neck, then proceeds to pull out one of her own teeth. Amelia then heads upstairs after Samuel. Banging on the door to her bedroom, Amelia manages to break the door down, causing Samuel to wet himself. As Amelia begins taunting Samuel, he realizes that it isn’t his mom and runs for his room, using his weapons to try and knock her unconscious. He is unsuccessful at first and manages to hide while the possessed Amelia goes to the door to alleviate Mrs. Roach’s concerns, as she had knocked on the door after hearing all of the screaming. Samuel finds Bugsy’s body and as Amelia approaches him, he apologizes to his mom before stabbing her in the leg with the kitchen knife. Amelia pulls the knife from her leg and chases after him into the basement but Samuel uses his traps to knock her out. When Amelia regains consciousness, she finds herself tied to the floor, with Samuel saying he won’t leave her and telling her she has to get the Babadook out of her. Amelia gets free and manages to grab Samuel and start choking him but she lets him go, then begins puking out a black goo, indicating she is getting rid of the Babadook. Samuel unties her and they head back upstairs but Samuel says that they can’t get rid of the Babadook. Suddenly, an unseen force grabs Samuel and drags him upstairs to Amelia’s bedroom and Amelia chases after him and rescues him. The Babadook taunts Amelia with the death of her husband again but this enrages Amelia and she begins screaming out at the Babadook, eventually causing it to shrink down and flee into the basement. Amelia then locks the door and embraces Samuel before taking him over to the couch, where they finally get some sleep. Some time later, Samuel and Amelia are both doing better, as Amelia is more attentive to Samuel and supportive of his weapons and magic tricks. Amelia and Samuel collect earthworms from the garden and feed them to the Babadook, which the keep in the basement as they won’t be able to get rid of it.
The Babadook was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares — and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.” The movie had a campaign where you could buy a limited edition version of the pop-up book, signed by Director Jennifer Kent, and containing additional pages not seen in the movie. The movie wasn’t a big success in Australia at first but after a strong reception at the Sundance Festival, it garnered more interest in other markets, earning $7.5 million off of a $2 million budget.
When the director of The Exorcist says, “”I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than The Babadook”, you know that you have some high expectations to fill. Now, I don’t know if I can quite say it met those expectations but this did do a great job trying to do so. This is an incredible movie and one that deserves the hype it received. The acting was good, with Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman doing great jobs as Amelia and Samuel respectively. The story was fantastic, playing on the age old fear that little kids have about monsters hiding in their rooms or in the dark. The aspect of Amelia trying to deal with Samuel’s trauma really ramped up the drama and that, coupled with the subdued color scheme, made the actual scares that much more impressive. The special effects were pretty decent and the design and animation for the Babadook worked well with the movie. A great horror movie that shows the audience that you can produce the scares without the blood and gore.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5