Directed by Jennifer Kent [Other horror films: N/A]
This Australian film is one that I have enjoyed in the past, though that was just with a single watch. Seeing it again, though, I have to say that I didn’t care for it nearly as much this time around. Perhaps I enjoyed the allegorical and interpretative nature of the film more in my youth, because while The Babadook isn’t without value, I just couldn’t really get into it.
Part of it is that I do find the story a bit annoying past a certain part. When it becomes clear to the mother (played by Essie Davis) that she’s not able to care for her son (Noah Wiseman) as well as she should be, she should have immediately checked herself into some type of treatment. Sure, they set up a therapist for the son (though that should have been done long before the time-frame of the movie), but when she’s barely able to get any sleep for days on end, instead of being sensible, she just – stays home and continues to fall apart.
I just found elements here more than a bit annoying. Her son clearly had behavioral issues, but instead of dealing with it in any positive fashion, she ignored it, despite clearly knowing her son wasn’t “normal” (which was made clear during her outbursts throughout the film). Though I can understand it’s a straining time for the pair of them (coming up to an anniversary of her husband’s death), the lack of thought she put into trying to do right by her kid drove me up the wall.
I’ll give the movie kudos for having a cool book, though – that Babadook book was beautifully-made (and from my interpretation, probably made by the mother, if the book was ever really there at all), and I’d definitely want a copy of that in my house. Also, the design of the Badadook was decent, though it’s rare in the film that we really get a prolonged great look at it – I know some may prefer it that way, but decisions like that, while they make sense, can sometimes feel a bit lacking.
My largest problem, though, tends to be just how interpretative the movie is. Some say that it’s an allegory on depression/sleep deprivation, which is certainly possible. I do tend to think that the Babadook isn’t a real entity, and that the mother is just utterly insane, but really, with a movie like this, any point of view is perfectly valid. I’d personally like a few more concrete answers, but that may just be me expecting the unnecessary from movie-makers.
The Babadook isn’t without value, which is clear to me, as I’ve enjoyed the movie in the past. It’s also possible that upon a future viewing of this movie, I’ll gain back some of the enjoyment I lost with this run through. As it stands now, though, while portions of the film were impressive, more often than not, it was filled with awkward conversations and felt like Baby Blues for the final thirty or so minutes.
I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy this more in the future, but for the time being, I don’t really think it’s that great.