Last night my roommate Christi and I decided we were in the mood to watch a scary movie. After quickly googling “Best Scary Movies Streaming on Netflix 2015” we decided to watch The Babadook, written and directed by Jennifer Kent.
The movie was amazing.
First of all, it was very, very scary. It’s about a widow raising a young son who’s obsessed with the idea of protecting his mother from a monster. She thinks he is just disobedient, until a children’s book called Mister Babadook appears in their home and she begins to realize the monster he is seeing is real.
The camera work in the film is artful. I know it sounds pretentious to talk about things like ‘the composition of the shots,’ but they were so thoughtfully done and visually stunning that I have to mention them. They also made me afraid of nothing. One shot in particular, where the mother (Amelia) is reaching up onto the top of the fridge made me jump even though nothing happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where the camera work alone elicited a real emotion from me.
The themes in the movie also kept Christi and me talking for a long time. The Babadook is a real monster in the world of the film, but also a very real metaphor about grief. The Babadook gets stronger if its ignored, and you can never get rid of it. It gets inside you and makes you do horrible things. It makes you say and do things you normally never would. The movie blurs the line between being a horror film and a tragic film about a woman crumpling under the grief of losing her husband.
There were also motifs that kept returning. I know, I know, pretentious. But it was so cool. There were call backs to knocking, magic, elderly people, flowers, and insects. Every time one of them was referenced it was so subtle and artful that I couldn’t articulate how blown away I was. I felt like a cartoon character with “!!!” over my head because I couldn’t think of anything to say.
And because the movie was so beautifully done, even though it was scary, neither Christi nor I went to bed afraid. There were parts that I watched through my fingers because I’m a big ol’ baby, but the horror was not the point of the movie. It helped the movie along.
[Soapbox] Also, I’m all about works that were created by women, especially in the film industry. The gender of the writer/director of this movie has no effect on the fact that the movie was amazing, but I do love that something this gorgeous was created by a woman and also received critical acclaim [End Soapbox].
So if you’re looking for something scary, I cannot recommend this film enough. Even if you’re not into scary movies, I would recommend it. I don’t want to spoil anything that happens, but it is so, so worth watching.
Although I will say that Christi and I are a little more aware of the cat staring at nothing today.