I had already heard some great things about “The Babadook” before going in, and I’m happy to say that I can pretty much confirm all of them. One of my favorite things about it is that it can be interpreted as a psychological thriller as well as a flat-out supernatural horror movie. Is the babadook a real thing, or just an expression of Amelia’s depression? You can take the movie either literally or figuratively, and to actually allow the audience to do that (and trust it in that way) instead of giving a last-minute explanation (that 99% of the time goes with the supernatural angle) is really rare; thus that was an incredible, positive surprise for me. I also really loved the ending, even though I’m aware that not everyone was (and will be) happy with the way things turned out. But I really liked one of the final scenes, especially when you go with the psychological explanation and think about what this means and/or says about clinical depression. Full of win.
The cast was great. Essie Davos was absolutely exceptional as the struggling mum, who tries to overcome her grief and her misgivings about her own son. I also like that “The Babadook” doesn’t make a complete monster out of her. Robbie definitely is not the most easy child, often times not listening to his mum, with a tendency to being obnoxious, and a very outspoken nature – more often than not, he talks without thinking. However, he too is not just made out to be a “problem child”. Both characters are very complex, they have their ups and their downs, their good moments and their bad ones, their strengths and their weaknesses. Ultimately, though, the root of the problem lie in their relationship, and the way they deal with each other. The Babadook (either the children’s book or the monster, however you want to interpret the movie) first encourages and then flat-out forces them to deal with their issues, especially Amelia, who has to overcome her rage if she wants to save her son – and herself.
The idea of the monster is great too. I love that the horror in this movie is initiated by a (really creepy and disturbing, but in a haunting way also beautiful) children’s book. The design of the monster itself is quite plain and basic, but still (or maybe even because of that?) incredibly effective. Thanks to Jennifer Kent’s great direction, pretty much from the beginning there’s a scary, intense atmosphere that never really let’s up, and intensifies to some incredible (and incredibly) tense moments. Despite that, there is also some humour that loosens up the movie a bit, and which mostly rests with Robbie and his very straightforward way. Overall, I found this movie to be very intense, scary, and disturbing, and can’t recommend it highly enough.