Amelia (Essie Davis) struggles with her life and particularly with her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who is eternally scared and crying for attention. The love of her life – Samuel’s father – died when Samuel was born and things have been slowly falling apart for Amelia ever since. Then one day a new picture book shows up on Samuel’s shelf. It talks about a monster, the Babadook, that once heard and seen will never leave again. Samuel is terrified and all of Amelia’s attempts to calm him have no effect. Then Amelia starts to feel the presence of the Babadook herself.
The Babadook was amazing and for me, it was definitely the highlight of this year’s /slash. I had goosebumps pretty much the entire time. I works both on a literal and a metaphorical level, it’s scary, touching, smart and it looks great. In short, it really is the full package.
I don’t even know where to start with my gushing about this film. Should I start with the great cast, especially Essie Davis who was so fragile and delicate, and yet full of force and anger and strength? Or should I rather talk about the look of the film itself, especially the house, the picture book and the creature design that as so simple and yet so very effective?
Maybe I should talk about how awesome it was to get a mother as a main character and how motherhood was portrayed in this film – how incredibly hard it is, especially when you’re on your own, especially when you’re not in a good place and how it will practically be your kid that shows the first symptoms when you’re not doing well, even when you still believe that everything is going okay.
Or I could write about how the Babadook is the perfect metaphor for mental illness and/or grief. Both in how it comes into their lives – by surprise, looking innocuous at first but quickly taking everything over – and the way it was defeated – confronted head-on and then banished into the basement where it still exists and still needs tending to and cannot be forgotten, but where it doesn’t take over completely anymore.
I could write entire essays about how great this film is, how complex and layered. But I’ll stop with a last look at Jennifer Kent (whose first feature film this is), my eyes in the form of hearts and an expression of utter admiration on my face.