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The Babadook

 

I’ll wager with you, I’ll make you a bet – 

The more you deny, the stronger I get! 

At first it seems like the boy is a problem, like he’s either disturbed or in tune to dark spiritual things adults don’t want to see (“He sees things as they are, that one,” says a wise old neighbor.) He builds weapons to fight monsters, he screams and freaks out and we’re pretty sure he’s going to end up killing somebody.

But gradually, it becomes clear it’s not him, it’s his mother, who has is losing her grip on reality.  The boy acts weird because he’s the only one who notices how odd she’s behaving, and that’s because he’s the only one who’s paying attention. Like us, everyone else thinks the problem is him – nobody takes seriously his concerns, not least because they are, of course, in the language of a six year old, whose vocabulary doesn’t include “mental illness” or “blackouts” or “suppressed grief.”

“The Babadook” is an excellent movie. Richard Roeper called it the scariest movie of the year; I don’t watch very many horror flicks, so I can’t make an assessment like that. But it does everything I want a scary movie to do, and avoids the common pitfalls. It builds an atmosphere instead of relying on startle scares. It’s wonderfully designed, edited, and shot. Its monster has a unique and genuinely scary look (all of the monsters in recent horror flicks look like backwood cousins of Gollum. This one doesn’t.) It has psychological (and/or spiritual) depth.

Spoiler alert: stop reading here if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want me to ruin its surprise.  Continue on to page 2 to read my interpretation.

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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