Friday, May 29, 2015

The Babadook (2014)

The buzz around this film was pretty strong. And I enjoy a good horror flick. But then I remembered the buzz around Oculus was pretty strong too, and that one didn’t do much for me. Still, the idea behind this one sounded pretty interesting, and the name, well with a name like that how could I resist. I had to know what the heck a Babadook was!

Amelia (Essie Davis) is having a rough time. Her husband died in a car crash while taking her to the hospital to give birth to their son. Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is now in elementary school and is pretty much out of control. He constantly talks about monsters, and builds home made weapons and traps to kill the creatures. Samuel’s behavior concerns all around him, even Amelia, who finds herself losing patience with her son.

But one night, she discovers a strange and disturbing storybook about a horrific creature called the Babadook. It is as if reading the book triggers the arrival of the creature in her home. Suddenly Amelia doubts her sanity, and her son is even more convinced that the Babadook is going to harm them. Reality starts to fray around the two, and Samuel begins to fear for his life. Because it appears that the Babadook has possessed his mother, and she is going to kill him.

Good Points:
  • Uses atmosphere and acting to build up a terrific sense of dread
  • The visuals and sound create a feeling of oppression in the home
  • The acting by Davis is impressive – giving us a very raw and damaged character

Bad Points:
  • A slow burning film – those looking for splatter should look elsewhere
  • If you don’t buy into the creeping dread, then you will find this slow going
  • While an answer is given, it is not obviously stated – this may frustrate some viewers

All my negative points come down to the simple fact – if you don’t like what this movie is trying to do, then you won’t like the film. It is all about creating dread and building it up to almost unbearable levels. It takes its time, allowing the viewer to stew in the oppression of the home and the disturbing images of the Babadook. But there are few jump scares and no teen cast members to pull in the normal horror crowd. For me, this is one of the best horror films I’ve seen in recent times, but it is certainly not for everyone,

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 4
Acting: 5
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I liked this too, not least because of the challenges faced by the mother of a difficult child, which are hard enough without a Babadook stirring the pot. It's all too easy to make the kid adorable in a film like this (e.g. the original Poltergeist) in order to make the viewer instantly sympathetic -- this kid is harder to like, though we do by the end. The film gives enough of an answer about the Babadook to let you fill in the blanks yourself, though I readily can think of several distinct ways to do that. I like that too, but, as you say, this might not please those who like an answer packaged and labeled with a bow on it.

    1. You make a great point about the way Samuel was portrayed in the film. It added some realism to the film as well as creating an extra layer of tension (and ambiguity) as the story continued. Not a film for anyone seeking a quick thrill, but worth checking out.