4th October 2018 | 31 Days of “Alternative” Horror: The Babadook

This Australian made movie did something incredible. It pushed its way through a barrage of terrible horror flicks that were only ever for audiences with short attention spans. The Babadook landed on the floor — no signature required — and it screamed a primordial scream and made everybody wonder, “Where has this movie been all my life?”

The story is simple: a struggling widow, Amelia Vanek, is at her wits end as the mother of a six year old, Sam, who suffers from insomnia and is seemingly obsessed with a monster who he believes lives in the basement of their house. The boy has even gone so far as to build weapons and puts out his intentions to fight the monster. One night, Sam asks for a different bedtime story. It is one that his mother has never seen before, but no matter, she reads it to him anyway.

She doesn’t have to finish it to realize that the book is nasty, malicious and shouldn’t be in the hands of her son, nor should it even be in the house.

From then on, the entity that she read within the pages of the book begin to manifest in their house in many different ways, often using, or should I say, baiting her son to push the boundaries of fear that shatters her mind to its core.

The film deals with metaphors of loss and the dealing with life beyond grief. The Babadook seems to embody the emotions of grief and is relentless in desires to remain there as a constant reminder of what is missing in their lives.

The film is a tour de force in psychological horror that rides the spectrum of human emotions. It was directed by Jennifer Kent who had been an aspiring writer from a young age. Jennifer trained as an actor at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Australia. She graduated in the class just above the actress Essie Davis, who played the ailing mother Amelia. Davis and Kent have been long-time friends ever since, and so, there seemed a natural sense of connection between the mother’s performance and the direction. Perhaps Kent had Davis in mind when she was writing this part.

The six-year-old son was played by Noah Wiseman who was one of a selection of over four hundred candidates for the role. It is of no surprise to know that his parents were in the child psychology field. It makes you wonder what quality the boy had that stood out, and whether that had any effect on his mature approach and natural take on the role of Samuel. Together Essie and Noah created one of the most realistic and believable mother and son relationships to ever appear on the silver screen.

The movie was adapted from Jennifer Kent’s original short film Monster, which had worldwide acclaim. The Babadook is her first feature. I would however not recommend that you watch the short before watching this feature. The feature is Jennifer Kent’s ultimate vision, and even though comparisons come naturally, they should really be made when watching Monster with The Babadook in mind, and not the other way around. To be distracted when letting The Babadook creep under your skin would be an incredible waste.

Written by: Stephen Radford
website: stephenradford.com

Next: 5th October: Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

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Stephen Radford ♫♪

Stephen Radford ♫♪

Author, writer Editor, and Story Developer. Podcast, Radio, Film, Music, and Performance — workshop tutor and professional writing mentor.