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Tyler

The Babadook (2014)

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Tyler   

 

The Babadook was written and directed by Jennifer Kent; it's her first movie, and it's based on a short she made almost 10 years ago. It's been getting "scariest movie of the year/decade/ever" accolades, and I think those are overblown, but it's still a very good movie.

 

Essie Davis is terrific as Amelia, a single mother who's struggling to raise her son, who has exhibited behavioral issues even before he finds a disturbing pop-up book titled Mister Babadook. (I think the title comes from the sound of knocking on a door, but the movie never explicitly says that.) Things escalate after they look at the book together, of course.

 

I wasn't expecting The Babadook to have

the same ending as

Shaun of the Dead. (i.e. Feeding and caring for the monster instead of trying to destroy it.) I thought it would go in a darker direction, with the Babadook being shown as the cause of the car accident that killed Amelia's husband and continuing to terrorize them until it destroyed the entire family. Instead, it uses the Babadook as a metaphor for the persistence of grief--something you can learn to live with, but never completely vanquish.

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rjkolb   

Simply a wonderful film and one of my favorites of the year. Reminicent of some of the great psychological horror films of Roman Polanski as well as Cronenberg's The Brood. Great to see a film not only directed by a woman but coming from a woman's perspective. Not the scariest film ever made, as William Friedken tweeted, but is a film that stays with you long after it's over.

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I really want to see this in a theatre, but even here in L.A. it only played for a very limited time. 

 

And just for fun, every time I see the poster, I wonder this...

BabaHyde_zpsc24a03f9.jpg

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M. Leary   

This film does an excellent job of depicting a child's experience of their parent's grief. In this case, the parent is dealing with significant loss in an unhealthy way. The child is feeling the despair of their condition. Their world is slowly closing as the parent isolates themselves. Since the child doesn't have an emotional vocabulary to understand what is happening, they mythologize it.

 

Very insightful connections here between a sad psychology and a cinema form.

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Attica   

THE BABADOOK POP-UP BOOK

 

"Join Mister Babadook in his evil plans for world domination by helping him get his very own pop up book published. And score yourself a copy in the process."

 

 

 

 

 

-

 

I've yet to see the film.  But judging from the trailer owning this book would be both kind of cool, and kind of creepy.

Edited by Attica

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Andrew   

I saw it as more of a symbolic depiction of the corrosive power of trauma unspoken of, rather than of grief, though there's plenty of overlap between the two.  After all, the movie starts with a nightmare of her husband's violent death.  I thought this was a very good movie, not great, but then again, horror is far from my favorite genre.

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M. Leary   

That is a good point, Andrew. I have had that experience of not knowing how to process traumatic death - which results in sets or cycles of "unspoken" behaviors like these. The grief component kind of overlaps the trauma processing in waves, and I guess I sensed grief here in the thematic use of color, the isolation of the characters, and the overall formal heaviness of the film.

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Russ   

I saw it as more of a symbolic depiction of the corrosive power of trauma unspoken of, rather than of grief, though there's plenty of overlap between the two.  After all, the movie starts with a nightmare of her husband's violent death.  I thought this was a very good movie, not great, but then again, horror is far from my favorite genre.

Sure, though there's an interesting dynamic in the film about that unspoken bit.  Her sister thinks she needs to stop talking about her dead husband, while the kindly lady next door thinks she needs to talk more about him.  Which is just the sort of dizzying ambivalence that afflicts the grieving-- can they say what's on their heart without making others dread their presence?  If they don't talk about it to a sufficient degree, are they being untrue to the memory of their beloved?  

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Andrew   

Yep, Russ, I don't think it's an either/or situation.  I think calling it traumatic grief captures the essence of it.  Families of traumatized individuals often convey (spoken or unspoken) that the trauma should never be spoken of, or that the person needs to "move on."  So it's a double whammy when the death was of a violent sort. 

 

I was impressed, too, that the film centered around her husband's death day/son's birthday - traumatic anniversaries are often times where the emotional distress unsurprisingly flares up.

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Evan C   

It doesn't forget that; the shot of them outside in the garden: the camera pans up from underneath the ground, where the dog is buried, which is where they're collecting food for the Babadook.

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Jeepers, what a great horror movie.

 

That kid would probably get my vote for Best Supporting Actor this year. And Essie Davis is really extraordinary here.

 

The film that kept coming to mind was The Fisher King. Interesting contrasts between Parry's reaction to trauma and grief and Amelia's.

Edited by Overstreet

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Persona   

Jeepers, what a great horror movie.

 

This.

 

Wow, I can't wait to see this one again.

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Evan C   

The longer I've sat with The Babadook, the more it rises in my estimation. I'm seriously considering putting it in my top three at this point.

Edited by Evan C

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Persona   

The longer I've sat with The Babadook, the more it rises in my estimation. I'm seriously considering putting it in my top three at this point.

Once again, I haven't seen anywhere near enough films to make a list this year. I saw The Babadook based on other year-end lists, and on my love of the genre in general. That said, I can easily see it going into someone's Top Ten, or Top Three, or whatever in any given year. It's the kind of movie that I would love to see a good writer dive into.

 

I do not think The Babadook works completely as linear story, nor do I believe it works simply as straight symbolism. It represents what only "good" film can do -- it makes you grapple with what it actually is. That, while at the same time, making you want to think more about its characters and what they've been through -- whether they've been through it in reality, or just in their head, or perhaps a little bit of both. It's that fine line between the reality of the story and its intricate symbolic layers that makes me want to rank it along some of my other favorite horror films (Eraserhead, Amer, Pop Skull, Lovely Molly, etc)

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SDG   

This is good. I'm not sure how good--its central metaphor is a bit too tidy for my liking--but it's undeniably effective.

 

Is it that tidy, though? Tyler highlights the dead dog as a problem, presumably in relation to the seeming détente of the resolution; if nothing else does, that sequence seems to define the Babadook as a hostile, evil, invasive presence. In this connection I would also cite the climactic defiance in which the mother declares the Babadook a trespasser, etc.

 

Yet, in the end, it seems the Babadook is something that can be, if not tamed, managed and lived with. How do we reconcile this with the earlier cited bits? And, even if we can, does it make sense to call the central metaphor "tidy" under these circumstances?

Edited by SDG

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Attica   

This Will be mine!!!  Now up on Amazon for pre-order.

 

 

Pretty great recommendation on the front cover.   :)

Edited by Attica

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Attica   

Finally got to see this at our local Cinematheque.  Really thought it was great.

 

It was also lots of fun to watch the people in front of me getting creeped out on several occasions.

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Finally got around to seeing this.

So it answers two nagging questions that I bet we didn't know we had. 

1.  What if the book of curses in The Evil Dead was a children's pop-up book?

and

2. What if they made torture-porn in the 1920s?

 

So... now we know.  (Really good film; though I am banning any single mothers of small chidlren from seeing it).

Edited by Nick Alexander

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