THE BABADOOK (2014)

The Babadook

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Overall, I think the biggest problem I have with horror movies is that so often they have great, even amazing ideas that almost never seem to follow through in the end. The biggest exceptions I can think of off the top of my head are The Vanishing and Let the Right One In. Even when critics say exactly what I want to hear about a movie, that it’s unique and realizes its idea through to the end, that almost never seems to happen. The Babadook seemed like a good candidate for a while, but like so many others just fell flat in the end.

The Babadook starts out sad and ominous. It follows Amelia (Essie Davis) as she tries to take care of her young son, Samuel, while also battling extremely intense depression. Her depression is exemplified because Samuel’s birthday is coming up, which is also the anniversary of the death of Amelia’s husband (and Samuel’s father), Oskar. Oskar not only died the day Samuel was born, he was decapitated in a car accident while driving in-labor Amelia to the hospital to give birth. So, Samuel was not exactly born under the brightest of lights. To make it worse, Samuel . . . sucks, I’m sorry. This kid is like a demon child from hell. He screams a lot and is violent and terrible, but then is also creepily dependent on Amelia; it seems like he’s constantly hanging on her or right next to her in some way. He’s so terrible that Amelia takes him out of school, which is probably not the best idea but she obviously feels like she doesn’t have many options. One night before bed, Samuel asks Amelia to read to him from a book they haven’t seen before, Mister Babadook, about a monster that torments people forever once they acknowledge his existence. Samuel freaks out, convinced that the Babadook is real. Weird things happen that Samuel blames on the Babadook, like Amelia finding glass in her soup. Although because Samuel is an awful demon child, Amelia is not really buying it, she destroys the book anyway. Not long after, the book is reassembled at her doorstep, with new pictures of Amelia killing her dog, Samuel, and herself.

Amelia and Samuel start seeing the Babadook, and Amelia in particular starts to see him everywhere, including at the police station where she tries to get help (and fails). Amelia can’t sleep and it becomes clear that the torment of the Babadook is driving her crazy. It’s also clear that Amelia is sort of possessed by the Babadook, or at least it appears to be inside her somehow. She sees a vision of Oskar in the cellar, who tells her to bring him Samuel. So, at this point, I thought it was fairly clear that the Babadook was some kind of manifestation of Amelia’s grief over Oskar and her resentment toward Samuel. Eventually there’s a bit of a showdown; Samuel stabs Amelia in the leg and has her come to the cellar, where she is finally able to force the Babadook out of her while nearly choking Samuel to death. She tells the Babadook that it’s her house, and the Babadook appears to disappear into the cellar. So, this is all making sense to me. The Babadook is Amelia’s grief/resentment/pain that is threatening to consume her, which would inevitably lead to her killing Samuel and then herself. It takes Amelia and Samuel working together, using their love for one another to ultimately defeat the Babadook/Amelia’s pain so they can finally move on.

But then in the last few minutes of the movie, we see happy Amelia and Samuel in their backyard, collecting earthworms and celebrating his birthday. Seems normal. Amelia tells Samuel to stay outside and she goes into their cellar, where she puts the bowl of earthworms on the floor. A force pulls the bowl into a shadow because . . . the Babadook is living in their cellar now? And they have to feed it? What?

So, I guess the Babadook wasn’t a manifestation of Amelia’s pain? Or it was and then it turned into something real? I could see the ending meaning something like now Amelia and Samuel know how to live with their pain and move on, but why does the Babadook have to be alive and literally living in their cellar like a living monster? So it was a monster tormenting them? The Babadook was real and had nothing to do with the fact that Amelia was grieving and in pain? I don’t know. This ending just totally ruined it for me. Was the Babadook a real thing or not? Was it caused by Amelia’s loss or not? Everything is pretty clear until the last few minutes turns it upside down, and then the movie just ends. It was really unsatisfying and I wished the filmmakers had stuck with the Babadook just being an idea rather than an actual creature that you can feed. UGH!

Christopher (spoilers!)

I was super excited about this movie and I was really into it all the way through until the end. I was expecting this movie to build more on the loss of the father but in the end I don’t think it really did that. Or if it did it did a terrible job of showing it. The whole movie is about a single mother trying to raise a kid with issues. He’s annoying and hard to handle and the mom is losing her mind. While this is going on the kid one night finds a book on the shelf of his room about the Babadook. It’s a creepy book and ends up scaring the kid. We end up learning that the husband was killed in a car accident on the way to the hospital to give birth to the son. So I kind of wanted this Babadook character to end up being the guilt she has toward her dead husband’s death or something along those lines. As far as I know it just ends with them taming it for some reason and feeding it and being happy that it lives in their basement. If this is wrong please leave a comment and let me know. But even if it is still supposed to be that they do a terrible job of showing that. It’s way too up in the air which creates a very anticlimactic ending to an otherwise creepy/stressful film.

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NO NO: A DOCKUMENTARY (2014)

DockEllis

Elizabeth

For a few years now, ever since Chris showed me this Youtube short on Dock Ellis, the short was one of my favorite Youtube videos I had ever seen. Animation is played over Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis as he describes the situation leading up to, and then performing, a no-hitter while tripping on acid. It’s super funny and amazing.

So I was excited to watch No No: A Dockumentary, which is sort of an extended, non-animated version of the short. It goes deep into who Dock Ellis was when he was an MLB pitcher and who he was after, along with the context that made him that way. Now that I’m really into baseball, the idea of someone today pitching a game while on LSD just completely blows my mind on multiple levels. It’s so crazy and interesting to watch old baseball footage; players’ bodies are different, their language is different, the atmosphere is different, the attitude is different.

No No does a good job of lending time to the event that gave the movie its name while also making it clear that Dock Ellis was more than just that guy who pitched a no-hitter on acid (though that’s a hard title to beat, I must say). He may not be the most famous ever player in baseball history, but he was certainly important and this documentary does him and his game justice.

Christopher

I first heard of Dock Elis from this animated short. I loved it and was definitely interested in trying to watch a game where the pitcher threw a no hitter while on acid. I showed Elizabeth this at some point and she and I have gotten really into watching The Orioles these past years so when we saw this on Showtime it was like it was made just for us.

I found the movie to be very interesting. They had some good footage of his career as well as interviews and he really did do a lot in his life. You also find out his skeletons which were very dark at times but as a whole his life seemed nice.

I’m glad we watched this and I liked it but I don’t think it was a great movie. I feel like you would have to be interested in the subject in order to find this movie enjoyable. But I would recommend that shit anytime!