28 November 2014 | jdesando
Anyone who's suffered loss knows this horror.
"You can't get rid of the Babadook." Samuel (Noah Wiseman)
The monsters they do live inside us, except, of course, when they also inhabit our humble homes, which is the stuff of horror films for over a hundred years. In that well-prescribed genre rests Jennifer Kent's disturbing The Babadook, one of the best psycho-horror films in recent years.
Almost jumping off a children's terrorizing pop-up book, Mister Babadook, the titular monster and typical kids' bogeyman, is first of all an obvious metaphor for the demon that dogs a mom, Amelia ( the fine Essie Davis), after losing her husband in a car accident as she is going to give birth to her 6 year-old son, Samuel. As they try to deal with the loss and its resentments, mom and son can't shake the terror of losing dad and husband, nor can the guilt-ridden Samuel let go of the feeling that Babadook is in their lives for the long haul: "You can bring me the boy," says Babadook, in a statement redolent of revenge and resentment.
Actually seeing the monster as it invades their house is rare, as it should be, given the suspenseful emphasis on the son's growing obsession with the ghoul's presence and Mom's increasing mania. In other words, this film works as a psychological study almost better than a horror story.
In some ways it reminds me of The Innocents, and in other ways it is notably a successful rendition of the modern female fighting elements that used to be reserved for the flawed male (think of The Shining as a shining example of the male-dominated horror flick).
First-time Australian director Kent's relaxed depiction of the possession until the effective climax and denouement goes a long way to let the audience consider the psychological ramifications of profound loss. Rarely does she gives us the standard clichés like false alarms and banging doors; rather she lets the horror emanate from the seemingly possessed Samuel and mom's emerging dementia.
"Don't let it in." Samuel