Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mini-Review - "The Babadook" (2013)

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Scares are often at their best when they are fresh, innovative and tend not to repeat. If films try to rely on the same type of horror, then it will inevitably draw comparisons to other work and make you forget about the film you are watching.

The Australian horror film "The Babadook," for example, is a psychological horror film about a single mother who must raise her inventive and socially awkward son, who gets paranoid when they read a bedtime story about a dark monster known as the Babadook. As her son begins to act out more, she gets less and less sleep and becomes irritable with everyone, including her son.

Much of the tension comes from the house playing tricks on this little family, and the mother thinking that this mysterious cre├Ąture might be followed her to get after her son. But nothing is ever confirmed or denied about the existence of the Babadook. For all we know, the mother was making up the monster due to lack of sleep.

Or was the house haunted? It did seem a bit run down and could fall apart at any moment. All of this is left up to interpretation.

However, my problem with "The Babadook," was that it did not offer anything new on this tale of paranoia and ambiguity. Almost everything attempted here was done in films like "The Haunting" or "The Shining," where you are never truly sure if we are dealing with something supernatural or if our cast of characters are slowly going crazy. It would be fine if "The Babadook" had a tense or unforgiving atmosphere, but most of the film felt like the mother dealing with her own problems without ever coming to any realization that wasn't forced.

"The Babadook" is worth watching for how ambiguous it is, but offers little outside of that.

Final Grade: C+

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