Martin Teller's Movie Reviews

I watch movies, I write some crap

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Advertisements

The Babadook

Posted by martinteller on July 5, 2015

I don’t know what it is that makes horror such an appealing genre to me on Sunday afternoons.  Why do I crave that kind of experience at that particular time of the week?  Or maybe I’m generalizing from a specific moment.  I know that this Sunday afternoon I felt like watching a horror movie, and I know having that feeling at that time seemed familiar.  Perhaps it’s because a Sunday afternoon is the most relaxed time with the fewest stressors, making it the “safest” period to introduce some creepy tension.

With The Babadook, writer/director Jennifer Kent shows that she is quite good at generating creepy tension.  I’m not the first to praise the film’s use of unpredictable dread rather than “jump scares” (although I don’t have a blanket objection to jump scares) to frighten the viewer.  She presents a family situation loaded with horrible possibilities, and enough ambiguity that you don’t know where the next threat is going to come from.  It reminded me of several other films that deal with the horrors of parent-child relationships, from both sides of that dynamic: The ExorcistThe ShiningWe Need to Talk About KevinEraserhead.  Not copying any of them (though there may be a few deliberate homages), but evoking these familiar scenarios in a manner that shifts from one to the next.  It enhances the unease, not knowing which way the balance will turn next.

There are also overt cinematic references on the television that Amelia watches in her exhausted haze, from the supernatural experiments of Méliès to Phantom of the Opera to Carnival of Souls.  Movies feed our nightmares, stimulate the imagination.  They are real and unreal.  How real are they to Amelia?  How real is the Babadook?  I honestly don’t know if we’re meant to question that.  The ambiguity seems to give way to certainty later in the film, but I see a little wiggle room for interpretation.

If nothing else, it’s an unsettling movie with a gripping sense of the horror narrative.  To various degrees, it touches on the horrors of parenting, coping with consuming grief, and the effects of sleep deprivation on an increasingly fragile psyche.  Very gripping performance by Essie Davis, and young Noah Wiseman handles his role well.  Rating: Very Good (82)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: