The Babadook Movie Review
I like this movie because I hate this movie. Let me explain.
I am going to give away MASSIVE spoilers for this movie. DON'T read this if you don't want it spoiled. You have been warned.
The reason why I like this movie, same as with The Shining and with most good horror movies, is that they are almost painful to watch. This movie is barely more than an hour and a half, but it feels like three. The eeriness and creepiness and scariness drags out like an ever-rising musical note, not knowing what will happen as you're frozen to your seat (literally) with your eyes glued to the screen, not being able to turn away, or Mister Babadook will be right there when you look. And that's what a horror movie should feel like to me.
The plot is simple enough. A widowed single parent is raising a child on her own. After they read a children's book named "Mister Babadook," the Babadook comes to life to haunt them.
That's it really. Not much more to be said about the plot. But everything else is pretty much spot-on. The acting is incredible by the mother and the son. You can feel the sour chemistry between them with Amelia's tired, pale face and Samuel's actions. Essie Davis (Amelia) really portrays her character incredibly, her face being perfect for this role; pale, lumpy, and incredibly tired. You totally accept her as a villainous person when the time comes. Even Noah Wiseman (Samuel) is pretty solid, considering some child performances can be dodgy. His descent into "lunacy" is totally believable.
But enough about that, let's move onto the scariness. And WOW is it scary. Probably the scariest I've ever seen. And the thing that really impressed me was that it was very unconventional in it's horror. Of course, it used some typical tropes (a few jump scares, some freak outs and loud yelling, and gory-for-the-sake-of-gory stuff), but there were two things I picked up on the struck me.
Huge props to the director, he did very well with his $2,000,000 budget. The two things I noticed were 1. Stop-motion style 2. Strange (but good) lighting.
For the scenes with The Babadook monster in it, the monster did not seem like a real person, but it looked more like a claymation figure, in a good way. It really added onto the eery fakeness of this movie. Everything is so ethereal and dream-like, with all the colors seeming to almost melt together, especially Amelia and her surroundings, with her pale face, pale dress, and usually pale walls. The director's use of muffled sound makes everything feel overwhelming. The jittery motion of The Babadook just wraps the scary present up with one creepy bow tie.
And secondly, the lighting. The way this movie is lit is extremely hard to explain., I'll try my best though. Imagine at some amateur stage play, and when some single light shines on a character from an angle, and only a portion of them is lit. That's what a lot of this movie is like. It's hard to explain, but it's very good.
And this movie is SO VERY scary. As I said, this movie is painfully dragged out, making everything so realistically terrifying, so whenever the monster really shows up, it takes your breath away.
Now, you've heard nothing but praise from me so far. And I mean it, most of this movie is outstanding. There's just one thing holding me back from giving this movie a 10/10. And it's the ending.
*MAJOR SPOILER WARNING*
I AM LITERALLY ABOUT TO RUIN THE ENDING TO THIS MOVIE. DO NOT READ AHEAD IF YOU PLAN ON SEEING IT!
OK, so the ending of The Babadook goes like this. After Amelia pukes the Babadook out of her (yeah), it drags Samuel up to her room, where it has frequently shown up. Amelia and The Babadook have a confrontation, consisting of her, and The Babadook, covered in shadows. The Babadook shows Amelia's dead husband repeat the words he said to her before she died, and then slices his head off. Amelia yells at the Babadook to "Get out of my house, you are trespassing!," and the Babadook makes a loud noise, and then...
Cut. Straight to Amelia happily gardening. Samuel collects worms with her, and puts them in a bowl. Amelia goes down into their forbidden basement, where she, to make a longish story extremely short, feeds The Babadook the worms. She had apparently... become friends with the Babadook.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love twist endings. The Usual Suspects, Fight Club, Psycho, and pretty much every Christopher Nolan movie are some of my favorite movies of all time. But the difference with this ending is that it's not just a twist, but it is also smart for the sake of being smart. I like "twists" like in Fight Club (FIGHT CLUB SPOILER ALERT) when it is revealed that Tyler Durden is imaginary, because you can put the pieces together yourself. I do not like "smart" endings, like in The Babadook, where you have to do what I did. Because when you have that moment of "it does make sense that Tyler is the narrator!" you feels mart, and satisfied. When you have to read several articles over the course of the day to finally understand what the ending might be about, it leaves me feeling stupid, and unsatisfied. I can't knock it too much for being smart. As it turns out, The Babadook is a representation of grief, and the ending is Amelia finally conquering the grief of her husband dying. Sure, it's clever, but the ending of a movie is the thing your audience will remember most after leaving the theater (or in my case, my seat), and when your audience is stupidly confused, it leaves a sour taste in their mouth.
If you were to ask me "how would I end it?," I would say I have not the slightest idea. But that's not my job. I understand that it is tough to come up with a good and unique conclusion for such an exhausted genre. The writer did his best, and sure its smart, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.
Overall, I give this movie an
An amazing movie only ruined by an unsatisfying conclusion.