Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, the Supernatural, Swords, Sorcery, and Star Stuff

Thursday, 19 February 2015

DVD Of The Week: The Babadook (2014)


While coping with the trauma of losing her husband on the day she gave birth nearly seven years earlier, single Australian mum Amelia (Essie Davis), a writer-turned-care home worker, is also having to deal with the increasing idiosyncrasies of her precocious son Samuel (Noah Wiseman).

Already obsessed with the idea that "monsters" are after him and his mum, Samuel's waking nightmares only get worse when he discovers a spooky old pop-up book about a creature called The Babadook.

Amelia is horrified by the effect the book has on Samuel and bins it, only to find it back on the doorstep a couple of days later... with amended, and more personal, threats written in.

The Babadook begins as a powerful, slow-burner, building the tension in an unnerving, gets-under-the-skin, fashion, suggesting shadows in the corner of your eye and in your peripheral vision. The monster, if it exists at all, is only ever glimpsed partially and there's a possibility that it really is just a creation of the joint anguish of a grieving widow and a young boy who never knew his father.

Most of the horror is psychological, with minimal special effects, and major kudos must be given to the powerhouse duo at the heart of this film - Essie Davies and Noah Wiseman - who carry the drama on their shoulders for the lion's share of the picture.

The atmosphere is certainly enhanced by the predominantly grey palette that writer/director Jennifer Kent paints the world of Amelia and Samuel with, making it look almost like a German expressionist film.

While touching on tropes akin to The Evil Dead and Poltergeist at times, The Babadook also has moments where it's a very on-the-nose metaphor for depression and abuse, as well as (thankfully) a couple of moments of well-timed, verbal comedy to release the pressure valve.

The presence of a lovable dog in the family home is a Chekov's gun - you know from his first appearance that he's either going to be a saviour or a victim... and let's just say things go the way The Babadook predicts.

The monster itself has a really interesting design, sharing a lot of stylistic similarities with Lon Chaney's character from the legendary, lost, silent movie London After Midnight - namely the top hat, contorted face and spectral 'wings' - but mixed with elongated fingernails a Disney witch would kill for and a more ghostly physique.

Where the story comes apart, as, unfortunately happens all too often in clever films that start so promisingly, is in the climax. There is a 'false ending', which is rather abrupt and limp, basically consisting of Amelia shouting at the monster, but then this makes way for the story's true ending which, honestly, isn't much stronger.

At this stage you can't help but wonder if Kent had drifted off into allegory and decided the whole film should be better dissected by film students than a general horror audience.

I have to wonder if this is a feminist horror (about the strength of mothers protecting their offspring), where I prefer the more testosterone-fuelled, blunt-force approach of "we staked it, it turned to dust". I don't mind my horror taking a cerebral turn, but I do prefer my resolutions more overt and definitive.

I also wish more had been made of the pop-up book. While I don't need every little hook explained in a story, Amelia never questions where this strange book came from (there is no suggestion that the house itself is haunted). It's never even suggested whether the book is an artifact of the creatures or vice versa.

The Blu-Ray includes Kent's ten-minute short, Monster, that served as the inspiration for The Babadook, although here the imaginary monster made manifest is a creepy doll rather than a creature in a pop-up book.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tags

10th Doctor (189) 11th Doctor (211) 12 monkeys (3) 12th Doctor (75) 13th doctor (4) 1st Doctor (76) 2000AD (58) 2nd Doctor (60) 3rd Doctor (64) 4e (44) 4th Doctor (98) 50th birthday (10) 5e (20) 5th Doctor (59) 6th Doctor (52) 7th Doctor (63) 7th Voyage (5) 7TV (21) 8th Doctor (40) 9th Doctor (49) A41 (15) Aaron Allston (11) abney park (18) academy of heroes (10) Acrobatic Flea (46) action figure archive (10) action figures (130) Adam Buxton (9) Adam West (21) addams family (21) adventure time (12) agent 47 (4) Agent Carter (65) AHS (11) airship 27 (1) alcatraz (4) alec (47) alice (98) all out war (1) almost human (5) alphas (18) amazon streaming (27) American Gods (3) Amy Dallen (22) Ancient Aliens (27) anime (55) anniversary hop (35) ant (1) ant-man (45) Anya Taylor-Joy (4) Apama (4) aquaman (39) arduin (45) arrival (1) arrow (155) arrowstorm (38) artist appreciation (68) assassin's creed (1) AT-43 (21) atlantis (22) atticus institute (1) audio (227) auton (9) Avengers (258) Aviator (12) Axanar (8) Babylon 5 (21) babymetal (16) baking (8) band maid (4) banshee (14) Barack Obama (16) barney (39) bates motel (14) batgirl (11) bathroom watch (8) batman (436) Battlefield Evolution (8) Battlestar Galactica (82) Beacon Point (5) bedlam (7) beowulf (6) bettany (10) big hero 6 (6) biggles (1) Bill Willingham (11) birthday (56) black guardian (3) black hood (3) black lightning (5) black panther (21) black sails (33) blackest night (28) Blackmoor (17) blade runner (23) Blair Witch (25) Blake's 7 (21) blood drive (6) Bloodshot (5) BMG (9) boardgame (66) BoL (5) book (835) book of the month (61) borgias (7) boston legal (5) bottom of the pile (24) bournemouth (28) brave (8) breaking bad (9) bright (1) brothers barbarian (1) BtM (25) BTTF (5) BtW (13) Buck Rogers (17) buffy (212) buffy campaign notes (4) Bukowski (9) Bushido RPG (4) C and C (78) c and t (93) Caity Lotz (4) Call Of Cthulhu (113) calvin and hobbes (11) Caper (10) Captain America (282) captain britain (20) captain marvel (5) cara (2) carcosa (9) card game (20) carnacki (1) carnevale (1) Carnivàle (1) Caroline Munro (12) castle (14) cataracts (5) cathryn (4) cats (5) charity (2) Charlie's Angels (9) charmed (28) chin scratcher (27) China (86) chitty (1) Chris Hadfield (9) christmas (281) christmas village (2) Cidri (130) clangers (1) clare (221) Class (1) cloak and dagger (2) clone wars (48) clovenstone (16) cloverfield (9) clown (21) cody deal (3) CoE (12) Coggershall (15) colin (3) colliders (3) colour out of space (9) comics (2002) community table (13) competition (48) computer (80) Conan (124) constantine (49) cool website (3470) copper (4) Cortex (10) cosplay (445) cosplay goddess (9) creepypasta (8) Crime Nation (1) crimson peak (6) critical role (1) crossbones (1) Cyberman (57) D and D (752) da vinci (23) dad's army (3) dalek (157) damage control (1) damien (4) Dan Abnett (10) dan dare (5) daredevil (116) dark matter (2) dark tower (11) Darkseid (16) darna (1) David Bowie (19) DC Fancast (4) DCC (3) de strange (1) deadlands (14) deadpool (24) Deathstalker (17) Deathstalker Week (6) decorating (83) defenders (28) defiance (20) dejah thoris (8) demons (12) desolation (2) devo (2) Dexter (19) Dick Garrison (7) Dickensian (15) dilbert (3) dining room watch (5) dinosaur (75) disney (145) doc savage (27) doctor steel (1) Doctor Who Skirmish (3) dollhouse (17) dolls house (29) dominion (3) doom patrol (12) Dorian Gray (14) Dr Horrible (19) Dr Strange (77) Dr Who (1115) DR WHO RPG (145) draconians (8) Dracula (55) dragon age (8) dragon warriors (2) dragonlance (14) Dresden Files (58) dune (2) dungeon bastard (67) dvd (1164) dvd of the week (383) e-space (4) EAP (5) eBay (141) Egypt (37) Elementals (6) elm street (40) Elric (38) Elvis (8) enormous (2) episode VII (58) episode VIII (5) equipment (2) ercia (3) erica (42) Erik Menard (9) eureka (7) eurovision (13) Evil Dead (44) EWDG (2) exorcist (26) Facebook (311) faction paradox (13) faith (7) FAL (1) falling skies (1) Fantastic Four (190) Fantazia (6) farscape (5) FCBD (28) FDTD (11) felicia day (21) FEMM (9) FFL (1) fiction (4) film (3409) film night (33) Firefly (73) firestorm (32) flash (283) Flash Gordon (39) flashback (841) fleamarket friday (586) fleapit (77) Flintloque (6) fmj (10) FoG (14) Formula De (25) foxy friday (5) France (33) Frankenstein (34) fringe (47) fu manchu (1) funky dice (18) funny (1182) GAFDOZ (37) GAH (1) gal gadot (20) galavant (1) game of thrones (315) gamesroom (124) garden watch (33) geek god (5) geek pin-up (139) Gen Con (47) generator (12) GFT (16) ghost (192) ghost in the shell (8) Ghost Rider (8) ghostbusters (66) Gillian Hills (3) glee (36) godzilla (19) googleplus (49) Gor (8) Gotham (58) Grant Morrison (45) green hornet (4) Green Inferno (17) green lantern (148) greywulf (9) grimm (19) grindhouse (10) growler (1) Guardians (154) Guardians RPG (9) gublin (18) guest post (13) gunther (2) hack slash (23) Hackmaster (31) halloween (161) hammer glamour week (8) hangman (1) Hannah Spearritt (7) hannibal (42) Harley Quinn (44) Harry Potter (53) harryhausen (47) Hattie Watson (7) Haunted Mansion (2) Hawk The Slayer (67) Hawkeye (47) Hawkgirl (15) hawkman (23) health (216) helix (8) hellboy (1) Hercules (28) hero kids (17) HeroClix (20) Heroes (62) HeroPress (677) Hertsmonceux Castle (8) Hever (13) HEX (115) HEX campaign notes (6) hey kids (4) HHGTTG (37) HIMYM (20) HMP (5) hobomancer (1) holiday (30) Hollyoaks (15) hollywood me (3) hook (3) hornets' nest (5) horror (1272) houdini & doyle (1) houserules (57) HOW (176) HOW spell (6) HOW treasure (4) howard the duck (12) hrumph (2) hulk (111) hunger games (12) Hunter S Thompson (6) ice warriors (12) ICONS (77) ID4 (15) IHMN (2) illuminati (4) ilyat (2) Immortal Iron Fist (41) immortals (1) indiana jones (68) infographic (21) ingrid pitt week (7) inhumans (55) InspiroBot (3) interview (41) into the odd (5) IRBKM (74) iron man (208) Ironclad (7) irrepressible (1) iTunes (40) izombie (9) Jack Herman (58) james bond (79) James Purefoy (8) Jane Seymour (5) Japan (160) Jason Statham (4) Jason Voorhees (23) jason xmas (11) Jeff Dee (79) jekyll and hyde (12) jeni (10) jericho (1) Jessica Alba (4) jessica jones (55) JLC (25) jody mills (8) joe gilgun (5) John Carrigan (5) john carter (55) john carter RPG (5) John Wick (3) Josh Trank (10) Josie and The Pussycats (4) Joss Whedon (67) JSA (9) Judge Dredd (57) Judges Guild (9) judoon (21) jumanji (3) jungle book (2) Jupiter Ascending (6) jupiter's moon (1) justice league (116) K9 (73) Kai (8) Karen Gillan (48) keira knightley (22) Ken Hulsey (9) kevin (110) Kevin Bacon (15) key to time (7) KFC (5) Kickstarter (364) killjoys (2) king kong (14) kitchen watch (17) Klingon (16) Knight City (112) knightfall (1) Knightmare (7) knights of badassdom (6) kom (11) KOTDT (56) Krampus (6) Kree (12) krod mandoon (6) krypton (3) labyrinth lord (50) Lady GaGa (7) larp (33) Lauren Cohan (4) Legends of Tomorrow (37) legion (2) LEGO (21) leverage (17) Life on Mars (13) light city (8) limitless (6) LoA (37) lodoss (8) Lois Lane (30) Lost (103) LotFP (31) LOTR (166) LoTS (23) lou (5) lounge watch (11) love and rockets (2) Lovecraft (298) LSH (54) lucy (5) luke cage (62) Lulu (41) mack bolan (6) mad max (25) Maelstrom (3) magazine (245) Maleficent (13) man in the high castle (1) mapamonday (102) Marama Corlett (7) Mars (112) Mars Attacks (15) Mars McCoy (1) marvel rpg (5) mary poppins (1) Matrix (25) matt (19) max neptune (12) megan fox (24) melin (1) meredith (95) merlin (193) Merlins Miscellany (15) MG (3) midale (12) mike the knight (1) Military Odyssey (8) mindprobe (9) miracleman (3) Misfits (26) miss peregrine (2) misty (1) mob city (1) Moby Dick (6) MoC (11) model train (28) model village (1) mojo (2) monkey (123) monster (605) monster mash (40) monty python (42) moorcock (38) morgan (1) Most Wanted (2) mr robot (3) ms marvel (6) MSP (13) MtG (2) mummy (31) muppets (43) murdoch (8) murmurs (1) music (530) musical monday (244) musketeers (4) mutant future (6) Mutants and Masterminds (41) MV (7) My Chemical Romance (7) my first (8) my life and roleplaying (34) Mythica (38) narnia (11) nashville (12) natalie dormer (11) natalie portman (18) Necronomicon (21) nemesis (1) nemo (5) nerf (1) netflix (158) new spell (12) nick g (22) nick l (242) Night Blogger (7) nightwing (9) Ninjak (5) NOF (7) nosferatu (3) NPH (10) Oats Studio (5) Oculus (6) odd thomas (2) officer downe (1) Olivia Cooke (10) Olympics (21) olympus (3) Once Upon A Time (20) one ring rpg (10) opinion poll (47) orange is the new black (9) Orin Rakatha (4) orphans (1) orville (2) ouija (9) outcast (2) outcasts (16) OVC (19) oz (22) ozombie (7) pacific rim (21) paranoia rpg (1) parks and recreation (14) Pathfinder (23) Patreon (19) paul (108) pembury (17) Pendragon RPG (11) penny dreadful (28) peri (21) period slang (5) pete (275) Philip Reeve (110) philosophy (42) pick of the pods (27) picture parade (83) pirates (109) Playboy (32) PMF (4) podcast (178) poldark (6) polly (5) Poltergeist (7) PotA (68) power rangers (2) powerless (4) preacher (13) Pride and Prejudice (23) Primeval (45) primeval RPG (20) Prince Valiant (14) Prisoner (4) prometheus (9) Pulp (222) Punisher (55) pushing daisies (2) PVF (10) QB (9) quantum and woody (1) quatermass (22) Quentin Tarantino (28) rachel (729) railhead (7) reading list (15) real life (2298) rebels (45) Red Dwarf (11) red sonja (18) rendel (6) Resident Evil (9) retro comic (100) Richard Sharpe (10) riddick (4) riese (4) rip hunter (13) Ripper Street (11) riverdale (118) roan (1) Robin Hood (30) robocop (13) robotech (3) rochester (4) rocket age (11) rocket raccoon (63) roger corman (14) rogue one (14) roleplaying review (38) rom (6) round-up (57) RPG (2490) rpgaday (23) runaways (1) Runequest (11) Russia (76) s and s (1) s w (80) sabrina (21) salem (1) Salute To The 40s (7) sara jean underwood (6) saturday morning matinee (383) savage worlds (100) SB (6) scooby-doo (25) scorpion king (5) Season 10 (5) Season 16 (6) Season 18 (6) Season 19 (6) Season 22 (5) Season 26 (4) serial thrillers (26) sevenoaks (13) seventh son (2) shadowrun (5) shakespeare (43) Shannara (3) shark (46) sharknado (36) shazam (34) Shedward (14) sheep (5) sherlock (41) shield (216) Shyamalan (8) sick (12) sick week (9) sidcup (1) silurians (15) simon (100) sinbad (56) sinbad week (7) SixoftheBest (61) SJA (106) slaine (20) sleepy hollow (10) sls (11) smallville (78) smurf (6) snake plissken (2) snoopy (11) snow (42) snow white (16) sns (2) soap box (61) sontaran (29) space 1889 (109) space 1889 library (3) space 1999 (3) spam tasting (5) spartacus (82) Spawn (3) spellfury (34) spelljammer (5) Spider-Man (270) sponsored post (2) sport (75) Squadron UK (3) st trinians (2) stacks (1) stacktastic (6) staghind (5) staircase watch (1) Stan Lee (83) Star Trek (332) star wars (720) Stargate (53) statistics (89) steampunk (117) steve (134) Steve Costigan (1) STO (1) STP (3) stranger things (14) stroke survivor (27) strontium dog (2) sucker punch (7) suicide squad (47) Sunday Funny (375) sunday specials (9) sunflower (5) Supergirl (129) Supergirl Sunday (28) superhero 2044 (3) superman (447) Supernatural (362) superteam (159) survivors (15) swing (11) t and t (11) t-shirts (31) tales from the loop (2) tales from the vault (4) tales of the gold monkey (9) tarzan (26) TBBT (60) TCM (29) Teen Titans (55) tekralh (201) tekralh reborn (17) tekumel (29) Terminator (40) terra nova (3) TFT (43) Thanos (13) the 100 (4) The 4400 (14) The Asylum (64) The Atom (34) the cape (8) the following (32) the gifted (8) The Guild (11) the hobbit (76) the hoff (8) the librarians (9) The Lurking Fear (3) The Mist (6) the quest (3) the ray (1) the river (2) The Shadow (7) this defiant earth (1) this is england (3) Thomas Jane (5) Thor (203) thrilling locations (11) throwback thursday (66) Thunderbirds (7) thundercats (2) Tick (5) Tim Peake (2) timeless (1) tintin (12) TMNT (15) tomorrow people (4) tomorrowland (2) Tonbridge (136) Toni Darling (4) top of the pile (184) Top Secret RPG (80) top shelf (11) Torchwood (137) torn from the headlines (183) trailer (2319) transformers (14) Traveller (43) treasure trove (38) Trial Of A Time Lord (5) trigan empire (1) trope tuesday (1) True Blood (42) True Detective (11) tuesday knights (430) tumblr (57) Tunbridge Wells (144) tv (2966) Twin Peaks (42) ubiquity (73) unisystem (46) Urban Exploring (8) urban knights (3) V (25) V and V (333) Valerian (14) valhalla (2) valiant (23) Valorie Curry (4) vampire (252) vampirella (20) van allen plexico (5) vandal savage (8) vault (1) venture bros (4) Venus (31) video (25) vikings (29) vixen (13) voltron (3) wales (6) warcraft (36) warehouse 13 (49) wargame (405) Watchmen (85) wayward pines (3) wedding (69) week in geek (111) week in TV (47) Weekly World News (23) weird wednesday (32) wentworth (6) werewolf (88) western (188) westworld (8) WGA (12) white canary (18) wii (6) wil wheaton (39) wild cards (10) wild dog (5) Wildthyme (14) william shatner (15) Winnie The Pooh (8) WoH (6) Wolverine (77) wonder girl (13) wonder woman (527) wonderland (33) World of Darkness (6) WRC (18) wrinkle in time (1) wuxia (46) www (356) wynonna earp (1) X-Files (54) x-men (176) x-o manowar (7) xena (40) yggdrasill (3) ZD (9) zelda (4) zenescope (19) zombie (430) zorcerer of zo (4) zorro (1) zot (1) zygon (17)