The Babadook

Scary stories are a lot of fun but they definitely stick with you. To this day two scary stories are burned into my brain since they were told to me in the dark of the night. When I was little my dad used to tell me and my brothers about Ambrose the One-Armed Indian. We were especially told about this character when we went out west to visit Arizona. As un-politically correct as it may sound now, this man roamed the nation looking for revenge for some slight against him. The other story I remember vividly is a reading of a horrible story that research tells me was probably Leiningen Versus the Ants. We heard the story around the bonfire at Camp Shohola and while it is an optimistic story it does involve a human being nearly killed by a swarm of ants. I shiver just thinking about it but I also cherish those moments.

I wanted the last movie I did this Halloween to be something well known and something big and flashy. The Babadook got a lot of buzz when it came out but I didn’t catch it at the time. This was actually fighting a long-held tradition of not watching what everybody else thinks is cool. Also, to give you a little peek behind the curtain, this is the movie I watched last. I also knew absolutely nothing about the movie and I don’t recognize a single person involved. I’ve never quite seen an Australian horror film either though I’m sure I’ve seen a Canadian one even if I can’t name it.  The thing is, as much hype as there was, I think people really undersold it.  Of course, these things are subjective.

Let’s get this out of the way, children are very, very creepy. At least, they have great potential to be creepy. I’m not talking about the overdone trope of painting them in white and giving them a long, oily wig either. I’m talking about normal, everyday kids. The average little kid has problems because their language system is still evolving and terrible things come out of their mouths. Also, like drunk adults, everything is a good idea even the things we know are the worst ideas. The kid in this movie is like that. He’s an unfiltered, chaotic mess and you have to feel for his poor mother. Still, I’m told there are both pros and cons to parenthood and he must have good days, right?

It becomes clearer as the movie continues it becomes clearer and clearer that we are dealing with an unreliable narrator. The mother is under a lot of pressure with her job, crazy kid and strained family relations. She’s also suffering from insomnia, anxiety and depression even before things get real. You have to ask yourself if she is hallucinating or if there really is a Babadook after her. The story starts slow as if it is a family drama movie instead but slowly we are driven into the spookier parts of the story. I’ll let you make your own assumptions about whether it’s real as you watch it. However, just thinking that it might be in her head is just as frightening to me as a real monster.

Frankly, the movie was hard to watch but in the best way. The movie is uncomfortable and frightening in just the right spots and pushed just the right buttons. This is a great horror movie but for the love of anything good, please don’t let children see it. Also, if you’re a parent (especially a single parent) and you’re sensitive to scary/emotional things you might want to give this one a pass. Everybody else? Have at it. Happy Halloween.

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