Friday, October 02, 2015

Brief Thoughts -THE BABADOOK (2014)

To usher in the month long viewing of horror films I finally sat down with some friends to watch THE BABADOOK and this may well be the scariest movie about grief and depression I've ever seen. I had managed to keep myself fairly unaware of much about the film's story but I was aware of it causing some fans of the genre to complain that first time director Jennifer Kent merely cut and pasted scenes from classic horror films. Now that I've seen the picture I have to say that the critics have a point in that it is easy to spot lifts from a number of great movies of the past including some David Lynch visuals, a few EXORCIST moments and some interesting ideas from THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. Of course, in the end (spoiler!!) the film can also be seen as a 21st century variation on Polanski's REPULSION (1965) with added guilt and family problems. But the viewers that reject THE BABADOOK because of these borrowings are being too clever by half because director Kent makes her lifts plain for all to see by showing us the film's characters watching several of the movies she then goes on to reference. Indeed, if as a knowledgeable horror fan, you cannot spot the obvious nods and clever reflections of the classic movies she weaves into her tale you are missing her point. It's a major plot point (and narrative clue) to the nature of the horror unfolding that the main character is aware of these films. By the time we witness a scene in which the main character is watching the 'Drop of Water' segment of Mario Bava's BLACK SABBATH (1963) this should be clear and it presages a wrenching, chilling revelation. This is a good film that announces a new talent I'll be interested to follow in the future even as I feel that this movie shows that she might move out of horror and into straight dramas. I hope not. 


Unknown said...

Babadook= a bad book

Rod Barnett said...

Yeah- I thought that was obvious and expected it to be a plot point in the film. Strange that it wasn't.

Unknown said...

I watched it a couple months ago and it is one of the few newer horror films to impress me.