It's more than just a boogeyman

It's more than just a boogeyman

The Babadook
English (A)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah
Wiseman, others

Here’s a single mother Amelia (Davis), who ironically lost her husband in a car accident, seven years ago, the same day she delivered her son, Samuel (Wiseman). Sam is violent, possibly autistic, but loves bedtime stories, magic and is inventive.

Sam believes in an imaginary monster called Mr Babadook and spends his time fighting the monster with his catapult and trying to convince Amelia of its existence.

Amelia works as a nurse at a senior citizen’s facility and with a hyperactive child, is sleep-deprived. “Rubbish, there’s no Babadook,” Amelia tells her son. One night, Sam pulls a pop-up children’s book from the shelf, which Amelia has never seen before. The book with its eerie charcoal illustrations threatens that once you read it you can’t get rid of Mr Babadook.

Shortly thereafter, Sam is expelled from school for being a threat. After Sam pushes his cousin from a treehouse for rebuking him, Amelia and Sam lose family support. As Amelia believes more in Mr Babadook, she gets homicidal towards Sam.

Kent’s debut as director pays homage to horror classics, The Shining and The Exorcist. However, there are no jump scares, noises or gore. It’s a psychodrama where fantasy and reality are blurred. For example, Amelia finds roaches under the wallpaper in the kitchen and begins cleaning.

However, there are no roaches minutes later when she has visitors. Kent has done her homework so well that it is hard to deduce if Mr Babadook is Sam’s imagination or a metaphor for Amelia’s agony for being a widow and raising a son she finds hard to love.

Amelia’s possession scene is only the beginning of several scares, amplified with drab interiors, and a monster that is half-bird and half-bat that lurks inside the house. Mr Babadook’s growl as he pronounces his name leaves an aftertaste long after you have watched The Babadook.

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