By Cody Curtis, Staff Writer
October has arrived; The month which includes traditions of playing dress up, eating candy until your teeth fall out and most importantly, watching movies which make you scream. Before you grab copies of Friday the 13th and The Conjuring, however, there is a film much more worthy of your time. The Babadook is not only terrifying, but will leave viewers with an unforgettable lesson about the darker side of humanity. After all, “If it’s in a word, or in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.”
Many years after suffering a devastating loss on the day her son was born, Amelia Vanek (Portrayed by Essie Davis) is still trying to cope. Her six-year-old son, Sam (Portrayed by Noah Wiseman), is quite a handful. He is disobedient, says anything that comes into his mind, no matter how inappropriate and cannot sit still for a minute. Amelia’s energy is drained on a daily basis. It seems as though there is nothing she can do, until one night Sam finds a mysterious book labelled “Mister Babadook.” Soon after reading this children’s book, malicious and evil things begin to unfold, leaving Amelia wondering if the experiences are real, or are they merely figments of her overly stressed mind.
The horror genre is a very tricky subject to tackle. Although there are countless thrillers and gore filled movies, there are not many superb ones. Luckily The Babadook does a great job at rising above what has come before. A combination of magnificent performances, expert direction, haunting cinematography and, most importantly, the atmosphere allow this to occur.
Family tragedy, depression and grief are the center points of this master work of filmmaking. It is these subjects which often make for the most effective transfer of emotion from the story to the audience. This is also the reason why the terror in films such as The Witch (2015), Hereditary (2018) and of course, The Babadook (2014) are so horrifying. Real world horror is in our relationships and lives. It is what makes the watcher connect to the film and feel the same amount of fear the characters do.
A film that is entertaining is good. However, a film that is not only entertaining but contains a powerful message is truly special. Director Jennifer Kent, who started her career with this film, clearly has a deeply rooted understanding of emotional strife. This knowledge of suffering translates to the silver screen in an incredibly creative way.
The house and the world Amelia and Sam occupy is always a dark shade of grey, black, or white. This seems simplistic on the surface, but as the viewer dives deeper into the characters’ psyches, it becomes apparent that the world in which they live is representative of their mindset. How lost they are, how alone they feel and, most importantly, how the Babadook monster is a creature of personal destruction in their lives.
Amelia might very well be the most astounding part of The Babadook. When an actor gives themselves over completely to a performance it is a marvelous thing. Davis vanishes from the screen, leaving us with her brilliant portrayal of a struggling, and emotionally destroyed Amelia Vanek. Davis gives her viewers an idea of what real pain looks like. The kind of pain you do not share with others, until it is too late. Until not even the people closest will recognize who you have become.
The month of everything Hallow’s Eve is a blessing if you are a die-hard horror fan. Nevertheless, the season isn’t just an opportunity to fill our minds with the junk food of scary movies. Films which consist of unending gore or psychological torment may be a fun ride but, ultimately, they leave no lasting impression. If you want something unforgettable, take the time to visit Mr. Babadook. Even if you do not enjoy being terrified, this film offers something worth the investment.