Just like in any other movie review, you would need to talk about likes/ dislikes, the producer and the director, the actors and their play, and, of course, your personal opinion and recommendations. However, horror movies have special features typical only of that genre.
In this article I am going to delve deeper into those characteristics and write a review of one of my favorite horror movies “Babadook.”
The Fear Aspect
Every horror movie has one main function – to disturb and scare the viewer. The directors have many tools at their disposal to fulfill this aim: from so much hated jump scares to deep psychological analysis.
It is important to discuss how fear is realized in the given horror movie. For instance, in Babadook a viewer would not find any gore or flashy special effects. However, the family grief and societal estrangement combined with the alarming presence of Mr. Babadook create a truly upsetting atmosphere from the very start.
The theme of horror oozing from within the family is very engaging as this is something that could happen to anybody. Amelia Vanek lost her husband in a car accident which occurred as they were driving to the hospital to have their first baby. Even though her baby Samuel is already 7 years old, Amelia still has not gotten over her pain. She seems to be stuck in her depression, which is exemplified in the scary figure of Mr. Babadook.
The plot in Babadook is pretty simple, without any unexpected twists and elaborated storylines. We have just one narrative which started in the past tragedy and continues up to the present horror.
When addressing the plot, it is worth mentioning how realistic the premise is. Often the horror movies ideas are far-fetched and contorted as the directors try to impress the viewer. However, in case of Babadook imagining a wife losing her husband in a car accident and getting depressed about is probably the most true-to-life premise you can make up so far.
The story unfolds smoothly without abrupt changes or rapid transitions. The horror builds up with every scene, and we know that with every minute Amelia is becoming more and more absorbed by her depression and Babadook’s influence respectively.
Horror movies tend to be based on a certain myth or the so-called true story. It makes such films more relatable as the audience is already familiar with the underlying concept.
However, in case of Babadook there is no real myth that underpins the story. Babadook is basically an anagram the Australian director Jennifer Kent coined for a bad book. This is why Samuel finds a tale of Mr. Babadook in an actual book.
Despite not being grounded in mythology, the story is recognizable for millions of people around the globe. The viewers cannot really see the monster per se, only its shadowy figure lurking in dark and lonely moments. This is a symbol of grief and depression that people experience after losing the loved ones.
You could ask yourself how well the actors suit the assigned roles and their overall mastery. In case of Babadook, I believe the main actors Essie Davis who played Amelia and Noah Wiseman who played Samuel did a fantastic job.
Essie Davis perfectly shows how ordinary, yet lifeless depression looks. She goes about her daily life, trying to connect with friends and be a decent mother. However, from time to time she would shudder with fear or cry a bit, revealing how she truly feels.
Samuel is perfect in the role of a little petulant child who refuses to obey his mother and succumb to his fear. He attempts to fight the mother’s depression with aggressive behavior and real physical objects which is both adorable and dismaying.
The Director’s Perspective
It is hard to evaluate what exactly the director tried to convey. In case of Jennifer Kent, you may discuss how this invisible monster was the epitome of innermost fears which prevented Amelia from enjoying her life and being a good mother.
The director shows the viewers how really frightening things are concealed within a self. When they come out and take upon a physical form, they can have a destructive and even deadly power. Amelia bottled up her grief for many years after her husband’s death, and when she let go of them, she put not only her mental health, but also her son’s life in danger.
The truth will come out eventually. There is no point in trying to suppress it. At the end of the movie Amelia learns to deal with it. You would ask how? Well, I suggest you watch the movie and figure it out yourself. No spoilers in the review.
In the end, you should always provide your recommendations as to whether this movie is worth the time and money. In case of Babadook, I would definitely recommend it. It is not a mainstream horror movie with cheap jump scares and ostentatious special effect. It is a deeply troubling story that could happen to anyone on the planet.
The message is simple. The more Amelia denies the existence of Babadook (read her depression), the more powerful it becomes. In the 21st century many people are subject to this psychological illness. Therefore, I believe this is an interesting movie with solid premise and an important topic.