Movie Review - The Babadook

The titular character, the so-called Babadook, takes the form of a shadow with Freddy Krueger-like hands wearing or in the shape of a man's suit and top hat, empty and flying. This might be a spoiler, but I wish the Babadook wasn't a real, supernatural creature that apparently can feed off earthworms. I wish it were simply an invention or fabrication in the minds of the two main characters. I wish this was a folie à deux situation.

Essie Davis stars as Amelia, a single mom in Australia. Noah Wiseman co-stars as Sam, the 6 or 7-year-old son to Amelia. Both she and Sam are dealing with the fact that Amelia's husband and Sam's father has passed away. That kind of trauma can have damaging effects, and I wish writer-director Jennifer Kent had gone to extremes with that.

For a segment, Amelia is possessed by the Babadook. I wish that her possession hadn't been a supernatural thing, but simply an extreme psychological one. Sam is unruly due to the trauma of losing his father, which makes him want to fight and kill the Babadook, regardless of it being real or not. Kent decides for a segment to make Amelia embody the Babadook, pitting mother against child.

This has already been done to great effect in The Conjuring (2013) and Oculus (2014). In both instances, the cause was always supernatural or demonic. Ultimately, it allows the cause to be removed or separated and stopped externally. If the cause was instead psychological, then it makes the problem more internal and less easily removed or separated. The horror or the terror would then have been vastly increased.

Pitting parent against child in a climax that threatens that one might actually kill the other was a great moment that Kent makes. Yet, there is a lot here that reminded me of Poltergeist (1982), but that film had so much more to offer than this one. Also, there is a scene where the Babadook kills the family's dog in a blatant way, which was totally unnecessary.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.


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