The troubled widow Amelia (Essie Davis) cannot control her six-year-old son Samuel who displays erratic, violent behavior at school. With stress mounting for the single mother who has still not gotten over the death of her husband six years previous, neither mother nor son can sleep at night. The story really picks up when Samuel asks his mother to read him a bedtime story, Mister Babadook, which mysteriously appears on his bookshelf. The pop-up book is about a supernatural monster that torments the reader, only causing Samuel to lose even more sleep and in turn drives Amelia to a near breaking point.
Turns out, Samuel begins to see the Babadook in real life. A tall, looming creature with scissory hands torments Amelia’s son, which in turn isolates him from school and friends. Not only that, but children are calling him ‘weird’ and his cousin harasses him for not having a father. More and more, he talks about the Babadook, almost as if it were in the room. Which…maybe it was.
The more Amelia denies the reality of the Babadook, the more it not only haunts her son, but her as well. She tears the pop-up book Mister Babadook into pieces, but it returns on her doorstep taped back together. She goes to the police station, but they perceive her to be insane. Amelia is alone and the Babadook hasn’t even started.
This Australian psycho thriller was dark, sinister and didn’t rely on loud noises and monsters jumping out of corners for its screams. The deeper issue at hand was the insanity that Amelia fought at the hands of the Babadook, and perhaps, at the hands of her own grief.
Here come the big spoilers! If you haven’t seen the film, go watch it right now. Trust me, it’s worth it. (I’m not an easy screamer.) For those of you who have seen it, here’s my two cents.
What confused me most was why Amelia and Samuel trapped the Babadook in the basement. Obviously if it lived downstairs with her husband’s things it wasn’t gone…duh! However, as she placed worms on the floor in the last scene I almost saw them as a peace offering to the Babadook. Just like her grief over her husband’s death that she never got over, the Babadook scared her at first, but she was able to tame it—just like her grief. She fed the Babdook and at the same time dealt with her unhappiness. It never goes away, but it can be lived with.
It’s not often I sit on the couch after a horror move and want to psychoanalyze what I saw, but that certainly was the case with The Babadook. GO—WATCH—IT.