Book and Movie Reviews

The Babadook: No Cookie Cutter Horror Here

image courtesy of
image courtesy of

I’ve said this many times,  I do not believe horror should be cookie cutter and does not have to contain extreme gore. Neither does Jennifer Kent, writer-director of The Babadook

“The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls,” Edgar Allan Poe said. Without giving too much away I will say this quote is fitting for this movie.

A widow is alienated from her son by his mysterious torment. In the beginning of the movie the son is sleeping in bed with his mom. Once he falls asleep, she scooches herself over just enough so he cannot reach for her in his sleep. From that action alone, we know something is wrong. The boy is hyper, obsessed with magic, a bit annoying, and very committed to slaying a monster that seems to begin appearing (although only he can see it for a while), after the mom reads a mysterious book appearing on the child’s bookshelf, titled Mister Babadook.

The book, Mister Babadook, is  not a children’s fairy tale, the mom realizes as she reads the story to her child. Despite being frightened by the tale and the scary pop-up images, he insists his mother finishes the story. Soon after, scary things begin to happen. The mom and son are sitting down eating dinner when she discovers pieces of glass in her food. The son replies, It was Babadook!  The mother destroys the book, and it appears again on her doorstep.

I loved this movie. It is horror, though for reasons that are beyond what most people believe horror should be or is.There’s a painful psychological element to this movie. No,there are no heads rolling off of corpses, no excessive blood splatter or cheap scares that many of us have grown used to. This is what writer, Jennifer Kent told ELLE magazine:

“Horror is a very underrated genre, and it’s seen by a lot of people as trash, but when you look at film’s like Werner Herzog’s Nasferatu remake, or the original one, there’s a lot of beauty. I think horror gets a bad rap. Its origin lies in fairy tale- these dark, dark stories,that were myths, really, and that’s why they still survive. They have the power to reach us all.”

Well said Jennifer, you’re my hero.

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