This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
mattmav45’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Am I the only one who thinks that saying the phrase "The Babadook" is simply a damn good time? Particularly when one makes an effort to enunciate the "oooook" part of the term. Granted, much of my hypothesis may be as a result of using the term as some sort of twisted mating call to my wife, but the point stands.
As for the film itself, unfortunately I can't help but wonder if I was over-exposed to the story before my viewing last night. I typically don't like to hear anything about a film prior to a viewing, and in this case all I heard was the word "psychological." Such an innocent term, but once I heard said term, my approach going into this viewing was stunted at least in some way.
Amelia is a single mom living with her son Samuel. At the outset one can quickly infer there is something off with their relationship, and it is thereafter mentioned that Amelia's husband was killed en route to taking Amelia to the hospital to deliver Samuel. This development ultimately shapes not only the characters (that much is obvious), but the story itself. Much of the effectiveness of this film comes from the dynamics and psychological impact that such an event would ultimately have on both parties.
At the outset Samuel is having visions of some kind of monster. With the help of sleep deprivation and her past, Amelia begins to succumb to said visions as well. To be clear here there is nothing quite scarier than a mom going crazy and having visions/thoughts of killing her own son. Even taking into account the aforementioned dynamics at play here, the act alone in and of itself is downright terrifying. There is no doubt that this is a damn good film showing Amelia battling and eventually overcoming her inner demons. Good film, but great horror film? That's where my dissension ultimately comes into play.
There are some good horror elements to be found as shadows and atmosphere are used to great effect. That being said, I can't help but think of Jacob's Ladder when I think psychological horror. I like a little nastiness with my horror, a little mean streak if you will. While this film is extremely effective in parts, when I look back on it now it didn't quite have the impact on me that I was wanting. I like to leave a horror viewing feeling off-kilter and shaken. Unfortunately, such was not the case here.
No doubt a decent watch but ultimately I draw the line when this film is mentioned as being "great horror." But that's just me.