Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Babadook – Beware of Random Books That Show Up in Your Home

Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: November 28, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Jennifer Kent

Amelia is a single mother with a troubled back story and an even more troubled son. On the day that she went into labor with her son, her husband was killed in an accident while rushing her to the hospital. Sam, her son, suddenly starts acting out and behaving in unusual ways. He has a hard time sleeping through the night, keeps talking about seeing monsters, and generally acts like a tool. It gets so bad that her own sister refuses to come around. Her sister claims that she can't control her son and that she never really got over the death of her husband.

Things come to a head when she takes her son to her niece's birthday party. When her niece taunts Sam about not having a dad and how she doesn't want him there, he retaliates by pushing her out of her tree house. After truly finding herself alone after the incident, Amelia finds a book that she never saw before, which is the story of the Babadook. Sam seems to enjoy the story, but she finds it so dark and disturbing that she throws it away.

Sam keeps acting out only now he keeps saying that he sees the Babadook in their house. Amelia takes him to a doctor, but when the doctor finds nothing wrong with him, she begs the doctor to prescribe him sedatives. Sam also gets thrown out of school, and she winds up stuck at home caring for him and calling off work. Things keep heating up the point where she begins wondering if she's possessed by the spirit because she can't control her own actions. Unless Amelia can figure out what's happening and how to stop it, she may lose both her son and her own life.

As a frequent Reddit user, I can't count the number of people who recommended The Babadook over the last year or so. It sat in my Netflix queue for so long that it became one of those movies I thought I would never get around to watching it. After starting and stopping it at least twice, I finally managed to get through the whole movie but I'm not sure how.

First off, let me say that I get why people would like The Babadook. It's got a few unsettling moments, there are some jump scares that almost come out of nowhere, and that book is hella creepy. That said, I didn't like it. The problem is with the character of Sam. It's one thing to make a child character who comes across as realistic, but it's another thing to make a young character is so annoying that you feel no empathy at all for him. There are multiple scenes early in the film that feature him shrieking and screaming in this high pitch shrill that hurt my ears so much that I wound up fast forwarding through multiple scenes. Since those moments served as the main introduction to the character, those scenes made me dislike him with a strong passion, which I never got over.

The Babadook could have been a good movie, but I just can't get over the way Sam acted earlier in the movie. He was just a little too realistic for me, though I will say that I'd love to get my hands on a copy of the book from the movie.

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