Monday, December 1, 2014

The Babadook (2014)

Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer:    Jennifer Kent
Cast:       Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battle with the son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

The husband died in a car accident while he was taking his pregnant wife to give birth to their son. Now the son is seven years old and she has not coped with her loss yet. The child is a difficult one and the reason for his behavior could be his mother's troubles. When the film starts off, the problems with the child is more apparent and as it goes on we realize that the more serious patient is the mother. The whole Babadook thing is something that is happening in both of their minds and represents the darkness that they are dealing with. The question in the film is will they come out okay at the end of it, successfully dealing with the cloud that is hanging over their lives feeding off each other. What is remarkable is that we start off hating both the characters, which could be a recipe for disaster in a horror film, but as the film goes on we start caring for them sympathizing with what they have gone through in their lives. Film also highlights the helplessness that surrounds Western family system where you don't have the support structure that is common in the Indian Joint Family system. What you in stead get is the community services/social workers who might deal with such delicate situations with tremendous suspicion and limited understanding. I am not advocating one system over the other since both presents itself with unique set of problems.

I am not really a fan of Horror these days because I don't have much time for ones that deal with overt super-naturalism like most of them do. In what has been a good year for Australian film industry, I have been hearing about 'The Babadook' in the usual places but was not arsed about it because of it being described as a Horror film. I finally took the plunge after reading William Feiedkin and Edgar Wright waxing lyrical about it on twitter. After watching it, I would class the film more as a Psychological thriller than horror and unsurprisingly enough, it was thoroughly a enjoyable / disturbing watch. Unlike most horror films, there is no casualties at the end and the ending is very hopeful even though it is a precarious one. Film reminded me of 'Sixth Sense', 'Stoker', 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' and of course 'The Shining', all of which I enjoyed thoroughly. I saw 'The Exorcist' when I was very young (11 years old dude) and am not sure whether there was any subtext to it apart from being a genre film. I guess I have to watch it again since everyone rates it so highly, and I suspect like this film it also has a motherhood/parenting subtext to it.

It is Jennifer Kent's feature length film debut after having made this story into a short film called 'Monster'. Funding for the film was primarily provided by 'Screen Australia' and SAFC and part of it was raised on Kickstarter. It is getting very good reviews from the critics but if you go by the IMDB score, general audience is not embracing it that much. Since am not a fan of the genre I don't know whether they will enjoy it as much as I did. Guess some people will be also put off by the Australian accent which is sad. 

Rating: 4.5/5