The Babadook Movie Review

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“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of The Babadook.” This statement is very true as Jennifer Kent’s debut feature length movie, The Babadook, haunts its viewer long after its conclusion.  As for the women in horror month, The Babadook will become a tradition for February.

This is a piece that I like to call an “In the Moment” movie.  It’s something that doesn’t need to have a beginning, or an actual ending, it just is.  At the start of The Babadook, I received the vibe of this having a dreamlike quality to its perspective, where the mother (Amelia, played by Essie Davis) is awakened from sleep, perhaps what we know is her last night of peaceful sleep.  By her awakening, we are introduced to her troubled five year old son (Samuel, played by Noah Wiseman), who has a great knowledge in booby-traps and weaponry.  We can see early on that he has trouble obeying his mother’s wishes, yet, his love for her is strong and loyal.

As we see mother and child cope with anxiety, depression, aloneness, and withdrawal from the outer world, we are already on edge as the scene is set for something to go horribly wrong. And as always, it does get worse, before it gets better.

The evil in this movie comes in the form of a gruesome children’s pop-up book called, Mr. Babadook. Despite the mother’s reluctance of reading this to her child, who suffers night terrors, he begs her to read it and she bows to his plea. Besides Samuel booby-trapping the house and having a knowledge in weaponry, this is another “In the Moment” scene.  When Samuel selects this title, Amelia appears puzzled, as if she’s wondering how this book found its way into her home. Only a few pages into this book, which depicts The Babadook as a boogeyman style figure, she quits reading.  Shortly after, paranormal elements start unraveling the lives of mother and son, more so than the elements in our external world.

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The fear inspired by The Babadook is something that I find interesting between terrorizing mother and son. For Samuel, The Babadook appears in places where we would expect the boogeyman to lurk, such as the closet or under the bed. For Amelia, The Babadook appears in places that could be fearful or dangerous to adults, such as a police station (where the ultimate form of help should be, but it isn’t in this circumstance), and a moving vehicle (a reminder of her husband’s death via wreckage).

I particularly liked the scene where Amelia pulled her tooth out, since the movie felt like a dream state to me, it seemed suitable to have her extract her tooth.  Reason being is, dream interpretation suggests that when one dreams of pulling teeth, it is a sign that the person will grow or undergo radical changes, sometimes it can reflect the difficulty of letting something important go.  Emotionally, this is exactly what Amelia does – she grows, becomes stronger, and finds closure in her husband’s death.

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This movie focuses strongly on depression and anxiety.  It shows how our personal demons can rip us apart from the inside out, and prevent us from our full potential and the love we can share with others.  For me, The Babadook conveys a strong message.  The conclusion of the movie, hints the only way to overcome personal demons is to face them head on, conquer them, and then learn to live with them.  Only then can we advance and live with ourselves and others.

I might receive responses bashing my interpretation of The Babadook, but I consider this to be a beautiful movie that is a piece of art, and like all art, it is open for interpretation.  How did you interpret The Babadook?

Best Wishes,

Alexander S. Brown

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexander-S-Brown/47904064687?ref=bookmarks

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