Saturday, 26 September 2015

Scary Saturday: Bad Book

Recently, I discussed the successes of certain horror films and what makes a 'good' horror (the article can be read here). Today is a day dedicated to some of the modern examples of the genre. First up is a film that came out of the land of Australia and took one of the oldest fears and gave it a little update. The monster under the bed has never been so scary. This is The Babadook.

Motherhood can be hard, but for widowed mother Amelia (Essie Davis) it is nigh on impossible. Samuel (Noah Wiseman), her son, is terrified of monsters under his bed and is insistent that he is going to catch them and kill them. It gets to the point where he makes weapons and takes them to school with him leading to his suspension. Amelia has to cope with an increasing lack of sleep trying to control him and bedtime stories just cannot cut it. One of these stories is a pop-up book telling the tale of the Babadook, a terrifying monster that kills non-believers. Naturally, this does nothing to help Samuel's fears, but Amelia starts to experience things that make her question the irrationality of being scared of the Babadook.

They say never work with animals or children but Noah Wiseman proves that rule is absolute nonsense, or at least half of it is. Without a doubt, the most chilling scenes of the film are rooted in Wiseman's performance. Shrieking in the back of the car, shouting at an unseen threat, Wiseman raises the hair on your arms and the back of your neck. Essie Davis, too, descends brilliantly into madness with her son. As the Babadook becomes more powerful, the conflicts between mother and son heighten in intensity thanks to the pair's impeccable acting ability.

Simply one of the most haunting films since Paranormal Activity and easily more chilling. Probably the best horror movie of the decade so far with the downright scariest monster since your childhood nightmare. Rather than convince you the bogeyman doesn't exist, director Jennifer Kent shoves you in the wardrobe with it and chains the door shut. The Babadook is an inescapable journey into insanity that you, the viewer, are also partaking in. The nature of the creature is left ambiguous, shrouded in mystery, and the audience have to suffer the uncertainty of what exactly it can do. It's not a poltergeist, nor does it seem to be a physical entity. It is a psychologically torturous being that penetrates into the mind of the character and spectator alike.

The Babadook is not only one of the finest horror films since the turn of the millennium, but in a world of reboots and sequels, it has brought a new and original sense of fear back into the cinema.

Best Bit? Samuel screaming in the back of the car before coming to a sudden, staring silence. There's a presence with him but we can't see it. It's the middle of the day. The Babadook does not work in the confines of darkness, he is there constantly; we just can't see it... yet.

1 comment:

  1. Just reading your review gave me reminder-chills. I almost didn't make it past minute 16 of that film, but I'm so glad finished it.