By Jerome Reuter
I can say with absolute certainty that it’s been a long time since a film scared me. At my age, I’ve grown somewhat desensitized. That all changed for me after this weekend. I sat down with 2014’s The Babadook, Not only is this film scary, but it marks the return psychology and suspense back idiot the genre . As I’ve stated several times before, these are the two prime elements missing from modern horror. William Friedkin has even praised this as one the scariest films he’s ever seen. If the director of The Exorcist is frightened, there must be something there.
The bulk of the film centers around a young mother and son, and a children’s book that’s taken on a life of its own. This theme preys upon something in our subconscious memory. As children, we all had our own ‘boogie man’ that we were frightened by. The monster under the bed, the ghost in the attic, or the beastie in the closet. Using this as a central theme reminds us of our own childhood, and makes it instantly relatable. A child insisting the monster is real is easily dismissed by an adult mind. When it leads to strange occurrences however, we’re left to question what’s real and what isn’t.
Although the Babadook is the title character of the story, it’s more or less a device to advance the narrative. The most terrifying subject of this film is the mothers’ psychological breakdown, and her inability to keep stability in the world around her. (a la Repulsion by Roman Polanksi.) Much like Polanski’s masterpiece, it’s the confined space that brings out the gloomy atmosphere. You’ll get a strong feeling of claustrophobia during this one.
In my honest opinion, this is one the best horror films released after 2000. Considering it’s director Jennifer Kent’s first film, I’d say we’re in for a few more gems.