The Babadook (2014) Australia
After already getting complaints about my ripping on the popular movie Oculus, I decided I might as well go after another movie that I've heard so much about this year, I was incredibly sick and tired of it and I hadn't even seen it yet.
The Babadook is a variation of the boogeyman - at least in this movie. I think everyone's aware of that. However if you want to see an above average, sometimes puzzling, actually pretty neat little piece of cinema (without your children please, unless you like them jumping into bed with you screaming they've had nightmares), I suggest you stop reading right now. If you must continue:
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The setup: Amelia is tired. Very, very tired. When she was being driven by her husband to the hospital to have her baby, they were in an accident and he was killed. She was fine and the baby was born...
Almost seven years later, Amelia is very VERY tired. Her child, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), is - hmm, let's put this in nice terms. He is a high maintenance child. He makes weapons like a small Daryl Dixon and insists on carrying them constantly. He gets kicked out of the first grade for sneaking one of his weapons (a small homemade crossbow that shoots darts) with him to school. He wants to be a magician and insists his mother helps him with costumes and magic tricks.
And he's scared of monsters. Every night not only does he demand a story, but a thorough search of his room for monsters. Night after night after night...
Amelia is VERY tired. Played by the beautiful Essie Davis, she is all but unrecognizable in this movie as the toll of trying to raise her son alone (she still wears her wedding ring and doesn't date) along with a full time job at a care center is making her older by the hour. Did I mention he was high maintenance? Oh and she has a toothache. That comes into play later...
He's also very, very annoying. He screams more than he talks and if I were his mother... let's just say that Noah Wiseman should get an Oscar for his performance in this film. If his character had been my kid, when he pitched a fit in the car screaming and kicking the seat, I probably would have stopped the car, kicked him to the curb and drove off...
Just kidding of course. Maybe. Which is why I have no children. One night, Sam insists on picking the book for his mom to read before bed. It is a pop-up book called Mister Babadook. I must admit that when I first heard the name, I thought it sounded like a toddler trying to tell you they've filled their diaper. The story goes as follows (if you think this is really cool you can buy the book but don't expect your kid to sleep without the lights on until he/she leaves for college):
If it's in a word or if it's in a look
You can't get rid of the Babadook.
If you're really a clever one
And you know what it is to see
Then you can make friends with a special one,
A friend of you and me.
His name is Mr. Babadook
And this is his book.
(RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE)
A rumbling sound then 3 sharp knocks
ba BA-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK!
That's when you'll know that he's around
You'll see him if you look.
This is what he wears on top.
He's funny, don't you think?
See him in your room at night
And you won't sleep a wink.
(LET ME IN!)
I'll soon take off my funny disguise
(take heed of what you've read...)
And once you've seen what's underneath...
YOU'RE GOING TO WISH YOU WERE DEAD.
After reading it to him, Sam completely freaks (just repeat duh a couple dozen times) and insists on sleeping with her. In his sleep he kicks her, pulls her hair and generally makes her miserable. Amelia is very VERY tired.
I peed myself more than usual trying to read this through without laughing so hard. I want to know who wrote this little ditty so I can shake his hand (I'll wash first)...
Samuel is such a brat he tries to scare everyone, telling them his dad died the day he was born, breaking the nose of a little girl when she won't believe there is a Babadook, and just being totally out of control. His mother can't even have a little, umm, personal time without him running in. Finally she's had enough after he trashes his room and takes the book and rips it up, throwing it out in the garbage.
Sooo of course the natural progression is that she starts to hear strange sounds at night. Great. She finds broken glass in her soup and is so defeated by it all that she simply tells Sam to go watch TV - even as he insists that The Babadook did it... And Sam isn't going to let up on her either:
"I HATE YOU! YOU WON'T LET ME HAVE A BIRTHDAY PARTY AND YOU WON'T LET ME HAVE A DAD!" This was his punishment for screaming at everyone and talking nonstop about the Babadook - oh yeah, and breaking a little girl's nose in two places.
FINALLY he gets so worked up he convulses, so the doctor gives her sleeping pills for the kid. To hell with the kid, what about her? I have to say I love the way they show her getting some sleep - the shot shows her floating in the air softly to her bed. Really wish I could do that. In the morning someone knocks on the door. Hard. The book is, of course, sitting on the doorstep.
It has been pieced together and more words have been added and looking closely I found a continuity error - it's small but it's so stupid that they couldn't take an extra second to... well, anyway:
|Notice how the words are arranged...|
I'LL MAKE you a BET.
ThE MORE you DENY the
STRONGER I GET
|The word 'the' has just been ripped and moved. L-A-Z-Y!|
The next page is The Babadook over HER bed with the words LET ME IN! The next page shows a pop-up of her standing with him towering over her from behind.
You start to CHANGE when I get in.
the BABADOOK growing right UNDER YOUR SKIN
Oh COME! Come SEE what's UNDERNEATH!
The next pop-up is the same except now she's strangling the family dog. As she looks, the dog's head falls over. So of course the NEXT pop-up shows the same except now she's strangling her son (YESSSSS!!!!!). As she watches the paper twists back and forth. The final pop-up shows her with a knife, slitting her own throat and red blood flows.
This time, because she has learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, she puts the book on the barbie, covers it in gasoline and sets it on fire. Next come the phone calls, then the cockroaches... Ho freaking hum. We're 41 minutes into the movie and all I've learned is that I'm rooting for a made-up boogeyman instead of worrying about this pitiful family.
Forty seven irritating minutes in, things finally get interesting. The kid is drugged to sleep, but mom isn't so she gets to see and hear a freak show that would frighten just about anybody. I was even creeped out. It's loud, it's an all-black figure, it crawls everywhere - even on the ceiling. Now HERE is the nightmare I was looking for. Watch only if you wanna:
Now it's mommy's turn to do all the screaming. She yells at the boy when all he wants is food. All she sees is TV programs with monsters in them - over and over. Her jaw is hurting even worse from the toothache, and while driving she thinks she sees something black and ends up in a minor accident.
I did find it interesting that when she turned stern (before she went total full-on psycho) the boy started behaving and stopped his yelling and temper tantrums. Hmmm... Of course once she totally flipped he tried to call for help and he had to hide with his homemade weapons while she went around locking everything so 'nothing could get in' although by now we know that she wants nothing to get out. She also makes him take his sleeping pills although they make him sick.
Totally at the head-twisting (the dog, or at least a stuffed one anyway) stage, she then pulls out one of her teeth - apparently the one that's been bugging her since the movie started. She's now a full-on evil spirit - she floats, screeches, and kind of sounds like Jessica Lange (sorry Jessica) - and now Sam's the hero and she's the enemy.
For a bit it turns into a nasty game of 'Home Alone' as the kid uses his homemade weapons, the kitchen knife, and a rope he strung on the basement steps to pull tight when she comes after him to trip her. If the tension wasn't so high, this would be funny. He manages to knock her out.
She comes to in the basement, tied up. But he's a seven year old and so she gets her hands free and starts to strangle him. After he tells her he loves her (with his neck being squeezed?) she lets go.
She turns over and vomits a bunch of black stuff. The boy then helps the wounded, icky and tired mother up the stairs. But at the next staircase he tells her you can't get rid of the Babadook and something invisible pulls him up the stairs.
She runs to save her son and gets in a yelling match with The Babadook and it gets irritating really fast - then we see effects that seem really cool but we don't see anything of him, except that he screeches and runs into the basement. Sigh. And the movie is not over yet.
Actually although at first I felt kind of let down by this meh ending, I was at least not disappointed completely with it - it wasn't good, bad, or predictable... just really, really weird. And I think it fits.
Update: 4/18/15 - I watched this movie again on Netflix and think I have a theory of the weird ending that seemed off the first time. Of course because of all the screaming I watched a lot of it with the sound down or off (bless the CC) but I think why she allowed it to stay in their basement is first, she was briefly possessed by it and maybe understands what it needs - and it understands that to have a 'home' it has to behave. Also, now that Sam has seen a real monster that is not going to 'get' him (rats) he has calmed down and maybe a real life can begin for the both of them. Just a theory.