It’s a real shame that indie movies very rarely make the box office. Usually, that’s due to a non-existent marketing budget, where they are forced to compete with big budget movies that have millions to spend. Sometimes, though, an indie gets lucky enough to become a sleeper hit. If there’s any movie that deserves that status, it’s this one.
Amelia (Essie Davis) is having a hard time. She’s the single mother to an out of control 6 year old named Samuel (Noah Wiseman). But Samuel’s problems aren’t just getting in trouble at school or failing his math test. Nope, Samuel is convinced that an evil creature is coming to kill him and his mother. Tortured by monsters that only he can see, Samuel becomes violent and dangerous. That’s when Amelia is forced to medicate him. It’s only after she does that she starts to see the sinister forces that her son was trying to tell her about. Turns out, she should have listened to her son’s warnings.
This was an extremely well written movie that has many mirrors of society. It deals with the very real conflict of caring for a child who might be mentally ill. It shows the mother’s hopelessness in the face of a problem she can’t control. Then, it throws a twist in there and makes the conflict not just heartbreaking, but potentially fatal.
This was a genuinely frightening movie. It wasn’t frightening in the sense of jump scares or scary monsters. It was frightening in the way that a truly well written horror can be frightening. This doesn’t really count as a spoiler. Instead, it’s a warning. You will actually find yourself frightened of a children’s story. The Babadook is actually a character in a children’s book that Amelia finds on her son’s shelf, though has no memory of buying it. The rhyming text inside could only have been written by someone who hates children.
I also like the way motherhood was treated in this film. Too often, single mothers are portrayed as selfless, hard working Madonna’s whose only care is taking care of their angelic, perfectly well behaved child. This movie actually treats single mothers like humans for a change.
They show the bad sides of parenting, especially when parenting a child who isn’t well behaved, who is entirely too demanding and who is extremely frustrating. This is not the horror where the mother keeps getting warnings from her perfect kid, who never lies, and refuses to listen. No, when Amelia refuses to listen to Samuel’s complaints, you can understand why. This kid is a total attention hog!
The leads were well chosen and believable. The conflicts were intelligent and the underlying fear makes the whole movie tense and genuinely chilling. This was a horror movie written by someone who truly understands the genre of horror realism.
The movie has had limited release in theaters, but it’s available on demand right now. Either way you see it, it’s going to be worth the watch. I have to say, of all the high budget, overdone, relentlessly marketed horror movies I’ve seen this year, not one single one could outshine this strange, suspenseful and genuinely unsettling little gem.
WE GAVE IT: 5 Stars