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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3 thoughts on “THE BABADOOK (2014)

  1. I have yet to watch this film but it is on my list. That being said, maybe the Babadook didn’t disappear after being “defeated” because depression can’t be beat..completely. Even with small triumphs and overcoming that depressive feeling it’s still there in the back of the mind. Lingering. So maybe, in the film, the Babadook lingered because she still has to deal with it and maybe she found a way to handle it. Just a theory…

    Now, I’m off to watch it!

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