Review for The Babadook
The Babadook was for some reason, a film I missed. I just was not interested enough to watch. Now in a beautiful Blu-ray edition, filled with special features I had my chance to get to grips with what many people generally regard as one of the best horror films of recent years.
Amelia is a single mother to Samuel, having lost their father in a car crash on the way to give birth to her son. He is an insomniac, obsessed with protecting his mother from monsters which he devises lost of traps and devices to defend them from.
Out of nowhere a book appears on Samuel’s shelf ‘Mr Babadook’ filled with horrific pictures qof this creature. This sends Samuel into a spiral of distress where he keeps seeing this craeture everywhere and leads to his mother having to take him out of school to care for him.
It is then that everything truly gets terrifying with the constant antics of the almost always in shadows Babadook calling out ‘Babadook Dook DOOK!’ as he does and this leads Amelia to have a total breakdown which puts both her and Samuel’s lives in danger.
Now, first up I will say that this film achieves two things perfectly.
1. It is creepy as anything and this creepy, scary tone is very effective
2. By the end I was completely freaked out.
However, I may have missed why everyone is calling this film perfect. I found myself quite listless while watching and (hate to admit it) but Noah Wiseman as Samuel was so irritating that I was praying for the point when the creature would shut him up.
The performance by Essie Davis as Amelia is perfect as the struggling mother and I was surprised by how much she reminded me of (by performance and also physically) Dee Wallace, who was the classic 80s Mum. Watching her descent into madness, screaming at the child for being plain irritating and not letting her sleep was very effective and creepy. In some ways, the film succeeds with this part. Where it fails is in its payoff.
I expected to see this creature, who looked terrifying in the book and in the shadows was horrifying, but once he had a form, for what it was, it was a little disappointing and the ending made me scratch my head. Director/Writer Jennifer Kent has said she would never allow a sequel to be made and I understand if she didn’t want the craeture to become just another Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger, but there is definitely more to this story that could be explored and with the success of the film she clearly has an audience for it.
Now, as I say this film had some great creepy moments and (almost like the Paranormal Activity films) whenever it got to night I was on edge as to what was going to happen next. However, by the end I was just very confused as to what the ending was supposed to be and indeed how I was supposed to feel about it all.
If you are a fan of the film, this edition will be a dream come true with lots of interviews with those involved. My issue with all of this, interesting so ‘some’ of them are, they really could have been edited to make them more enjoyable. Instead we get the same story about how someone got involved with the film again and again. This becomes a little boring and though once they get onto the film it becomes interesting I think with a bit of editing or maybe putting a few of these together it would have been better.
There is nothing new from Writer/Director Jennifer Kent which is a shame, but she is featured in the archival features and it is clear this is a project that she put a lot of work and heart into. When you consider this is her debut feature film it is an astounding achievement.
Also included is the short film which inspired it ‘Monster’. In black and white this felt very creepy and at only ten or so minutes really got to the meat of what makes The Babadook scary. It was quick-paced, wonderfully edited and more enjoyable than the feature film which feels like nothing much happens.
The Commentary is fine and it is clear that they love this film and hearing them talk about it is great. I think I found watching with the Commentary a lot more enjoyable than without which is odd and maybe it was because there did not feel a moment when they were not commenting or talking about some aspect of the film.
The Babadook is not a film I personally enjoyed, but I understand why a lot of people do. The atmosphere and performances by the main cast are wonderful and once the film cranks up on the horror it doesn’t let go. If only it had done more to build this and with a bit more editing to make the film quicker it would have been more enjoyable to me. If you are a fan of creepy, slow-building films then you will love this film.