The Babadook is a 2014 horror film directed by Jennifer Kent. The film revolves around a mother and her son and the difficulties surrounding their lives. The mother, Amelia, is forced to raise her son, Samuel, on her own after a devastating accident takes the life of her husband. The film depicts the struggles of raising a child on your own as well as the physical and mental repercussions that it many times has. It also details the overwhelming impact that the death of a parent may have on a young child.
From the beginning, the film shows the struggles that Amelia faces on a day to day basis. She works a dead end job while taking care of Samuel who is very troubled. Samuel is consistently acting out in school and getting himself in trouble. One night, Amelia decides to read Samuel a bed time story. The book that Samuel picks is called The Babadook. Amelia does not recognize this book but decides to read it to him anyway. The book turns out to be a disturbing tale of an entity that you cannot get rid of. “If it’s in a word, or if it’s in a look you can’t get rid of the Babadook.”
As the film progresses, the presence of the Babadook becomes more apparent. What starts seemingly as Samuel’s paranoia eventually manifests itself into visual and auditory encounters with the entity. Unexplained knocks, sounds, and sightings of the apparition add to the feeling of dread that this film brings about. Even more disturbing is the radical transformation that takes place within Amelia. The presence of the Babadook changes the once patient mother to a mean and aggressive shell of the parent she once was.
The Babadook is a testament to the power that horror cinema can hold. Many times, horror films are not taken seriously because of the many films that have not worked. However, The Babadook does work. It works because it exposes the trauma that can be inflicted through a death within the family. The Babadook is a representation of anguish, sorrow, anger, and all the other emotions that attach themselves to those involved in such a tragedy. The Babadook, just like these negative emotions, starts to take a stronger hold on everything around you when it is not dealt with. The abundance of metaphors and the overwhelming sense of dread add to the effectiveness of this film. This film is one of my favorite films because of its ability to draw emotion from the viewer. It is also a substantial achievement because it is Jennifer Kent’s debut film. A debut film receiving substantial praise is not common in the horror industry. It is even more uncommon for a female director who is producing a film in an industry that is mainly male driven. I highly recommend this movie to anybody who is a fan of the genre or who wants to see one of the top films that the genre has to offer.