Posted October 24, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

The Babadook Review


Well there is always one isn’t there.  Every now and again a film sets alight the imagination of the press and garners one of those posters crammed full of singular words to the positive effect (speak of the experience of the film of course) and several lines of 5 stars tend to join them, if not just a line of 5 stars accompanied by the name of the publishing outlet.

The Babadook is in fact that film.  But it isn;t the one we speak of. The one in question is this reviewer whose opinion is going to stray to the contrary of the aforementioned praise.  Yes ther is always one who doesn’t get it or left the screening with other opinions.

So what are they?

Well first of all let’s just state the case of the film for the record:

The is the story of a single mother already at her wits end having to deal with a rather tortured young son who may be up to no good around the house, and seems to be blaming it on the titular spook.  A creature who likes to devour children!

Of course this is the last the mother in question needs right now as she is finding work, friends and being a mother all a bit much at the moment. But this only intensifies as do the rather supernatural goings on in the house.

Ok let’s stop there. That’s great and all – but now we have to mention the marketing of the film which clearly sways the film toward the monster/creature side of things. Just watch that trailer!  This is clearly a monster film waiting to unleash itself in the second half.

Instead The babadook decides that actually it wants to be a psychological thriller, but one that personifies and in some (dodgy CGI) instances shows you the beast (Or at least the shadow of it).  So it’s all a bit – is it there? is it not there? is it all in her head? if it is then how come the film is showing us this? or that? And is that all meant to be lies as well and in her head too?

In short: the film cheats the audience by neither being a monster film, or a pure psychological drama/horror that it pretends it wants to be. It certainly isn’t what the trailer suggests (which is always a pet peeve for us and a sign that the marketing department had no faith in whatever the filmmakers think it actually is). There is neither a firm grasp of either and you are left in limbo and therefore a little more carefree about what is going on.

What doesn’t help matters are the performances and the actions of characters.  The mother in question does some fine acting – but you kind of often think “Why” to the her actions from time to time. But then that’s the point!  That she is unravelling.

As for the kid:  Well… If screaming, thrashing kids is something you can tolerate for the length of a movie then you are in for a treat. If you have a particularly low tolerance to annoying brats who blame everything on the bogeyman then you are going to be trapped in your own personal hell.

The film got a mixed response at this year’s FrightFest.  Don’t be fooled by the press: A lot of people liked it, but there were plenty of souls on site who didn’t care for it much either! We were there and we asked them.

This in the end was just an annoying experience that didn’t have the nerve to go full monster or, well, full retard.

2 Stars



Steven Hurst