Catching the tail-end of the Halloween movie season, one movie that really piqued my interested was THE BABADOOK. Having caught the trailer for THE BABADOOK on the run before I sat down to watch ANNABELLE, I can honestly say I haven’t seen a trailer that has truly made me feel uneasy for a long time before that trailer. Perhaps it was the big screen in a dark room at the cinema… so upon returning home I watched the trailer on my iPad: yep, still scared me! Whilst the trailer didn’t reveal too much about the movie itself, it still did enough to make me feel uncomfortable. I do enjoy — if that’s the right way to put it — a good scary movie and this felt to me like it could be the next one to induce scares back into me.
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
As the film kicks off, we soon learn that Amelia (Essie Davis) is still haunted by the death of her husband, struggling with everyday life, holding a job and to look after her only son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who was subsequently born the same day her husband died. Straight away you notice that Samuel is a handful to say the least, and you can sense some slight resentment from the mother towards her son.
Samuel, we soon learn, is just like any 6-year-old with a wild imagination; one who’s scared of monsters under his bed or in his wardrobe and part of the mother and son’s nightly routine is to check everywhere to make sure the monster isn’t there. Every night, Amelia reads her son a story to set him off to sleep, which is then usually followed by Samuel bursting into her room in the middle of the night screaming that the monster is there. One night, Amelia tells Samuel to choose a story to read and he picks up ‘Mister Babadook’. She starts to read the book to him and soon senses a sinister feel to this mysterious book, and in turn swiftly reads it to Samuel which petrifies him immediately making the ‘monster’ he fears to be THE BABADOOK. This then pretty much sets up the rest of the movie, which I don’t want to talk about too much in fear of spoiling anything for anyone.
What I found different and refreshing here is that it was not the kind of movie that I was expecting to watch. When you watch the trailer, you think you’ll be in for the more ‘typical’ ghost/demon haunting a house type of horror, however, what proceeded was something completely different. To me, it was more of a movie watching a distraught mother descend into madness whilst her son is trying to protect her from herself; to keep her sanity intact with the catalyst being the ‘Mister Babadook’ book and THE BABADOOK fighting against Amelia to consume her.
The film itself was made on a low budget — $2.5 million I believe. There’s some good practical FX and a very small use of CGI, but other than that, THE BABADOOK relies on your senses to do the movie’s work. Now, at the start of this review I said that I haven’t seen a trailer for a long time that had made me feel uneasy and that THE BABADOOK was the one that genuinely made me feel uneasy. Watching the movie, I unfortunately didn’t feel scared while viewing it, but it did certainly make me feel uncomfortable. Essie Davis is superb in the role of Ameli, but the real stand out is Noah Wiseman as Samuel. He is simply fantastic in the role of a troubled child who will do anything he can to protect his mother.
Even though THE BABADOOK didn’t scare or frighten me in the way I thought it was going too, it goes without saying that this was a very good watch and one which I will most certainly purchase on Blu-ray to watch again at home.