The Babadook ★★★★

After a frustrating experience with the down under horror The Loved Ones, which I found had flashes of brilliance but then ended up leaning on lazy torture porn tactics, it was refreshing to come across this tightly scripted, dread inducing, Australian psychological thriller.

After getting over the puzzlement of thinking that Julie Delpy was playing the lead, the dread began to set it.

I was the type of child that would check under the bed, and often keep a watchful eye on the closet, and on the shadows cast by the moonlit trees on my bedroom window. I didn’t need any spooky bedtime stories, the dis-ease came naturally. I remember my mom reading particularly un-spooky stories at bedtime, in fact, but yet the tapping of branches on the winter frosted window would keep me awake. I don’t know if this was the result of being an only child, and not having a sibling to share a bedroom with, or if that was a blessing. It didn’t help, of course, when we visited relatives with older cousins that were well aware of my skittishness, and rejoiced in exploiting it by telling those campfire stories I had never heard.

A mother’s refrain is, as in the film, ‘they aren’t real’. Like the credo of The Babadook, the more you deny, the stronger they get.

Over time we all outgrow the fear of monsters. Life becomes scary, but a fun challenge to be tackled.

Then we become adults, and realize that monsters are real after all; and while we don’t check under the bed, we still lie awake.

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