The Babadook ★★★★½

"If it's in a word or it's in a look,
You can't get rid of the Babadook.
If you're a really clever one
And you know what it is to see,
Then you can make friends with a special one,
A friend of you and me.
His name is Mister Babadook
And this is his book.
A rumbling sound then three sharp knocks
Ba BA-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK!
That's when you'll know that he's around
You'll see him if you look.
This is what he wears on top
He's funny, don't you think?
See him in your room at night
And you won't sleep a wink.
I'll soon take off my funny disguise
(take heed of what you've read...)
And once you see what's underneath
YOU'RE GOING TO WISH YOU WERE DEAD.
I'll wager with you
I'll make you a bet.
The more you deny,
The stronger I get.
You start to change when I get in.
The Babadook growing right under your skin.
Oh come, come see!
What's underneath!"

I was told by a certain someone to finally watch this, in exchange for that someone to finally watch Grand Budapest Hotel. We shall see.

Anyway, this one gets pretty unsettling at times. Very rarely does it rely on loud noises to force a jump, instead using ambiance, background, and music to create an atmosphere. Sound design is a big deal here. From the flickering of lights and howls of wind to the ringing and almost demonic chants that occur when the Babadook's presence is felt, sound is half of the puzzle.

The other half, I'd say, is the house. The movie starts off going to a few other places, but eventually closes in on the house much like mother/son. Each room is explored just enough to know how they matter and recognizing little nooks (dooks?) that become important later.

Also, the design of the Babadook itself is fantastic. And props to Essie Davis for going full psycho towards the end.

The big criticism I always see involves how annoying Samuel is. Yes, he's an irritating little shit (Amelia's trying to get her rocks off, and he basically hops on her), but it works in showing how his erratic behavior affects his mother so i didn't mind it so much. He also needs to be annoying, because if he was a well-mannered child, the plot would have to go in a different direction if it could even exist at all.

There's a few ways into looking at what the "Babadook" represents, and here's how I interpreted it:

(SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS)

Amelia misses the spark and excitement she used to have when her husband was still alive. Shortly after he died in a tragic, violent car accident while trying to bring her to the hospital, she gave birth to Samuel. It's never explained, but it's probable that this afflicted both mother and baby, physically and mentally. We see their situation six years later (most likely, as it's hinted towards him being six turning seven) and how Samuel is pushing away everybody Amelia knows, from friends to potential suitors. Amelia is tired of living a doldrum life, working at the senior center and always having to look after and protect her child. While Samuel thinks he's protecting her from the Babadook, she thinks he's the very thing it represents. A being that may have a funny look on the outside, but is actually a life-ruiner on the inside that makes her wish at times she was dead instead.

(END OF SPOILERS)

The only issue I really picked up on in this first viewing is that, sometimes, Amelia's tragic event is really hit over the head when it didn't feel required for the scene (Ruby's party, for example).

One more thing: I don't think I've seen anyone bring it up, but this movie can be used as yet another example to not get married or have kids.

"I got them from you on the internet."
"Well, that's the end of the internet."

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