Social realism meets fantasy horror. A match made in hell – which, in this case, is a very good thing. Mister Babadook, a cardboard cut-out from a children’s book, isn’t exactly terrifying. Neither are the other scare tactics employed by the film, which are basically the tired “things that go bump in the night” found in countless ghost stories – unexplained noises, ominous shadows, etc. So, why does the boogeyman and his cache of tired tactics work in this film? Because our surrogate in the situation is a grieving, financially-strapped, single mom trying desperately to hang on to her son and her sanity.
Writer-director Jennifer Kent’s attention to the psychologically fragile main character and to that character’s challenging everyday world invites the audience to identify strongly with the character and to suspend disbelief in the character’s world to an unusual degree. Once that strong identification and suspension of disbelief have been established, the intrusion of the otherworldly becomes not only plausible, but especially unnerving precisely because of its overt artificiality. In other words, in a very real world, a very unreal monster becomes all the more terrifying. Check it out.
Rating System: The rationale behind the rating system can be found here. Scoring is color coded: Theme : Plot : Character : Dialogue : Acting : Cinematography
The Babadook 4: 3: 3: 3: 4: 3 IMDB