Sunday, April 26, 2015

This monster thing has got to stop, okay?

It was probably just my brothers f--king with me, but when I was a little kid I distinctly remember a low, breathy voice telling me to look toward the window. While that might not sound like much to you, I hated looking out that damn window, as all the potted plants lining it looked like little creatures when backlit by the moon. *shudder*

So that night, as a hopelessly terrified five or six year old, I ran out of my room to my two older brothers, and managed to say, Eddie! That scary voice that you heard? I heard it too! Shockingly, they didn't laugh, but instead it seemed like the life had immediately been sucked out of both of them. Eddie had heard the voice...

...but he never mentioned it to me.*

The only thing creepier than being a freaked-out little kid, is being the parent of a freaked-out of little kid. I say this not only as someone whose young son tearfully staggered into his mom and dad's bed again, but also as someone who recently finished the chilling Aussie horror flick The Babadook. The monster might be scary, but the kid? The kid is f--king terrifying.

Single mom Amelia is having a tough go. Her job sucks, she has zero love-life, and -most pressing of all- her son Samuel is a real handful. We've all known a kid like Samuel: wiry, jittery, with perpetual dark circles under the eyes. He's a good dude, but with his (hopefully?) over-active imagination, he's a tough one to be around. He plays rough, he talks about monsters and death, and ultimately, no one really wants to spend anytime with him. Even his mom to a degree. And watching her struggle with Samuel, I felt two things: bad...and really, really fortunate.

After being expelled from school, Samuel is home a lot more. Mom is already at her wits' end, but this increase in face time with her young son is completely exhausting. One night, before bed, Amelia says she'll read him a story. He bounces over to the bookshelf, only to return with the lone colorful item in their house: the blood-red copy of a pop-up book titled The Babadook. Mom doesn't recall buying this one at Aussie Target, but goes ahead and reads it anyway. And to quote one of my favorite Sublime songs, that's when things got out of control.

I'm not going to spoil it any further, but it's safe to say that this one is worth the watch. While the story and accompanying madness are both quite solid, two things really stand out. Both lead actors are phenomenal in conveying the increasingly suffocating sense of terror. Noah Wiseman, playing Samuel, is particularly haunting, but Essie Davis as his mom is no slouch either. Her descent into madness is equally harrowing (and plausible). As frightening as the fantastic elements get, the real scares come from seeing these two unravel.

Making it worse, or better (depending on what kind of sick bastard you are), is arguably the best creepy house in horror-movie history. Director Jennifer Kent has crafted something so impossibly depressing yet gorgeous, you could watch The Babadook with the sound off and still be completely enthralled. And terrified. There are a few (very quiet) moments that might scare the piss out of you.

Speaking of embarrassing smells in your pants, here are the Yays and Boos. After the debacle that was Mama [review], these two swore they'd never revisit Scary kid in a Scary house, but The Babadook righted those wrongs. Well...most of them. Those moths simply can't be undone.

That moment when you stop reading aloud because you object.
Yaaaaaaaay!
  • Ba. Ba. Dooooook.
  • It took me seconds to worry about Samuel. Instantly, I was like f--------k this.
  • At least her dog is pretty chill and low-maintenance. 
  • The book! How can something so ugly be the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen? 
  • That ball-launching backpack thing was pretty badass. Slick shoes, it ain't, but cool regardless.
  • This is a kind of boo because it scared me so such, but it appears we've found the universal solution to all of life's problems: pulling the covers over your head.
  • Hells Bells. Is anyone else 100% convinced that after seeing Samuel, they now know exactly what Angus Young looked like as a kid? (pause) Just me? Moving on...
  • And finally, when things get nuts, it's f--king intense. The ultimate reveal wasn't too scary (it never is), but leading up to it (and a good portion of Mom's descent into madness after it), was soooo good. 
His favorite two movies? Home Alone and The Exorcist.
Boooooooo!
  • That steady conflict between loving your creepy-ass kid vs. wanting to Dragon Punch him for ruining your life every minute of everyday. Shoryuken!
  • The reason why they never really celebrate Samuel's birthday. Ouch.
  • I don't blame her for one second, but chilling at the mall with some tasty treats instead of picking up your (potentially not) insane son? If ladies can pull a dick move, sign Amelia up for one.
  • No one likes to be interrupted, Samuel. That's mommy's special time!
  • The treehouse. Even though I looked away, I could still see it coming.
  • Heavy eyes. Having a kid is a major kick in the sandman's gooeybag as it is, but when said kid is a friggin' basketcase? Well, you can just forget sleeping altogether. (though a major Yay goes to how well this is portrayed - yikes).
  • I guess in Australia it's totally cool to slam a kid into a wall. That, or the outback is home to the tiniest stuntperson on the planet.
  • And finally, the ending. What the Hell is going on here? Jason Voorhees gets defeated. Freddy Krueger vanishes back to where he came from. They lose. Not The Babadook. He's like a different kind of loser. You know, the kind that live in their mother's basement.
Tonight I would have read my son a book before he went to bed, but unfortunately he's sick and passed out long before I had the chance to. But when he gets better, I'll be quick to get right back to reading him a story. 

As long as I can find the receipt for the book first.


*Cue the ghostly music as I wiggle my fingers above my head (but f--k you, I stand by the authenticity of that story).

6 comments:

  1. "Her job sucks, she has zero love-life, and -most pressing of all- her son Samuel is a real handful. " - oh man replace the kid with my dog and I can be in a remake of this thing.

    I really liked the movie but what I liked about it the most were the crazy online theories - such as the black stains from chalk on Amelia's hands suggesting she wrote the book and the scary footage of a woman inside the house on TV looking like Amelia suggesting she will kill the boy after the events depicted in the movie. It's a true sign of how smart the movie is because they are plausible.

    Also there is stuff like this -http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2321549/board/thread/243104652

    The reason for them not celebrating his birthday is probably the most depressing idea I've ever seen on screen.

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    1. Ha. I would say I'm with you in starring in the remake, but right now, the only thing that qualifies would be the sucky job (and that's [temporarily] ending soon!)

      Those theories only make me like it more, too - though I would have never heard about them without you mentioning it. I will look into some of that when I get the chance. The idea that she wrote the book IS AMAZING!!! Could you imagine?

      Yeah...I couldn't stop thinking about what an awful day that would inevitably be every year. So sad.

      (I just checked that thread, then the movie again- MADNESS!!!)

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  2. Fuck me for not renting this last night when I had the chance.

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    1. I was shocked to find it on Netflix so soon after my sister told me about seeing it theatrically (granted it's been four months - but still). Let me know when you check it out!

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  3. Just watched The Babadook it was an amazing movie in my opinion. But if you're confused why the Babadook is still alive, I got the answer for you. The babadook isn't just a monster, it's a monster that symbolizes something. The babadook is suppose to be Amelia's sadness about her husband's death (Which is why the Babadook changes into her husband once in a while). She denies about her moving on when honestly she isn't which is why the book said "The more you deny that powerful I become" or something like that. As she denied, the pain became more harder for her to function. Depression is a very serious thing and it can take over your lives which is the message The Babadook is trying to send. The pain can't go away but she just has to deal with it. The babadook is still deep within her but she just needs to take care of it and handle it so it doesn't get out of control. That's why she was able to open up about her husband's death during Samuel's birthday 'party and why the Babadook is in the basement with all her husband's stuff. Hope that clears up why the Babadook is still alive xP

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    1. Oh, Anonymous. You're the coolest.

      Okay, where to begin? First, your theory is excellent. Honestly, I'm a huge fan of your explanation, as it makes a lot of sense. If I can correctly recall instances where the Babadook presented himself, the sadness over her husband feels just about perfect. And doesn't the son insist that he will be the one to protect her? If so...I like it. A lot.

      I'm very impressed by this interpretation. You must have had some excellent teachers, huh?

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