The Babadook

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Remo D
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The Babadook

Post by Remo D » Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:27 am

Okay--more often than not I would have had my annual "year in review" post ready and waiting by this time. However, there was still some unfinished business to attend to... near the very end of the paltry 2014, the so-called "everybody and his mother" (well, honestly, not too many mothers) suddenly and simultaneously voiced to me that I absolutely had to see THE BABADOOK for consideration as one of the year's very best (if not THE best) in "horror."

The film only now opened locally, but thanks to my (suddenly overwhelming) personal schedule I had to cheat and watch it on-demand all the same. Sorry.

THE BABADOOK is actually a 2013 item from Australia which received its belated U.S. release in late 2014, so place it wherever you feel it belongs on the calendar. And it's the sort of film that initially summons Guillermo del Toro to mind (real-life traumas become "monsters" in the eyes of a child)--but well before it's over you realize that del Toro probably wouldn't have touched this one with the proverbial ten-foot pole... his films are all about the catharsis and the epiphany. This one locks you in the closet to scream it out.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is trying to raise her six-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) without the benefit of a father (who died in an accident just before Samuel was born)--and Samuel is understandably concerned about "monsters" near or under his bed. He's fine so long as the stories he's told have definitive happy endings (the pigs DID kill the Big Bad Wolf, right?)... oh, but from whence did THIS charming little pop-up book spring?

"Mister Babadook" is a Gorey-esque black-and-white nightmare with a deceptively charming and pleasant cadence... a shadowy "friend" is on his way to see YOU... you'll know him by his knock ("Ba-ba-DOOK-DOOK-DOOK!") and if you see what he looks like under his facade...

Yep. It's THAT creepy (and so of course the pop-up book is about to become a real-life sensation). There's no rational explanation for the book's existence, getting rid of it is quite impossible and getting it out of Samuel's head is doubly so. Even worse is the realization (perhaps too late) that you, the viewer, may be falling for a bit of misdirection.

THE BABADOOK is the writing/directing feature debut of actress Jennifer Kent, who shows an equal grasp of the psychology of fear and the techniques used to illustrate them by countless cinematic predecessors. And on occasion (perhaps unavoidably), she displays just a LITTLE too much of the latter (as the film proceeded towards the final movement I couldn't help but recite a list of familiar shots to myself ("Okay, that's HALLOWEEN, that one's THE BROOD") and I also expressed dismay that Kent indulged in one of my pet peeves for easy shock value (though I can't say I wasn't adequately warned). However, the overall effect remains undissipated and the performances remain superb--and THE BABADOOK scores its most vicious blow with what it DOES leave to your imagination as the credits prepare to roll.

Again, place it where you will on the calendar--but it's 2014 that needs all the help it can get. THE BABADOOK is certainly a potent shot in the arm. Proceed with caution.

OKAY, I'm going to get to the year in review next! And I'm not going to stall it off for the sake of another dose of THE ABCs OF DEATH, either... yeah, THAT's on demand for another couple of days, but the first one was quite enough, sorry.

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Chris Slack
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Re: The Babadook

Post by Chris Slack » Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:26 am

I loved this film. I think I know exactly what you were talking about when you mentioned easy shock value but I won't spoil it for anyone.
"Regrettable... I was hoping for a colleague, but at least we have
another experimental subject..." -Mesa of Lost Women

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Re: The Babadook

Post by Kimberly » Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:23 pm

This movie was fantastic!

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