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Monday, June 22, 2015

You Should Be Watching: The Babadook

Ok.  So.  You know that I'm a HUGE horror movie fan.  I love urban legends, I love mythology, and I adore films that can deliver thrills and chills with an unsettling metaphor.  The Babadook offers all of those things in a spectacularly classic horror movie fashion.  This movie.  I cannot even begin to tell you how refreshing and creepy it was.

The premise: A widow and her son are terrorized by a mysterious, malevolent entity.

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It's so simple, it's almost deceptive.  I watched it once at night and in the day time so I could have an unbiased look at the storyline and critically evaluate this beast.  It was so nicely done, the metaphor/monster warranted a second look.  The Babadook offers a look into the lives of its characters that drive the creepiness, the insidious nature of the titular monster into your mind.

Courtesy of Google

The Characters:  There are two main characters, Amelia, the widow and her son Samuel, who acts very much like a child with either severe psychological trauma or as though he is autistic...with psychological trauma.  These two struggle through their lives, both isolated and estranged from their peers due to the death of Sam's father.  Amelia works as an aid at a senior daycare with dementia patients.  As a person who occasionally has to do this, I can say that this job is stressful, demanding, and can wear on your spirit.  She's often late, often exhausted, and seems bereft anything but the blithe smile on her face.

Samuel goes to a private school, where he barely has contact with his peers.  He is the weird kid who is brilliant, but the others all shy away from his inventiveness and explosive anger and tantrums.  Deep down, he's a sweet kid, but bullying and isolation drive him to recognize those around him as either people to be pleased or literal monsters to be slain.  He, like many little boys, wants to protect his mother, who he witnesses in a stay of constant emotional decay.  Meanwhile, he struggles to define himself and thrive.

Baaaabaaaa Dook Dook Dook....  Finally, in the midst of everything that both main characters have to deal with, the Babadook enters their lives, first, via a chilling children's story book and finally... in a quite literal fashion that threatens to destroy them both. 

This movie explores horror in the truest fashion.  Not simply with monsters, but with a look at the human mind and heart.  It terrifies you with themes and stressors that we all encounter: the death of a loved one, a sick child, work stress, and the difficulty of putting up a brave front while feeling that every effort you have made is in vain.  The Babadook explores the terror of our own insecurities, frailties, and day to day struggles.  It gives it a face... and provides a word of caution.  There's little more horrifying than a peek into the deepest darkest parts of our own hearts and the possibility of the nightmare our lives can become if we don't peer into that darkness and recognize it for what it truly, truly is.

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