The Babadook: Grief Monster

The-Babadook

You can guess what movie I just watched! And it’s about time too. Seems like this film has been released everywhere except the U.S. I wanted to see this flick so much, it was starting to drive me nuts (though not as crazy as Amelia).

Amelia’s a lonely widow living with her son, Samuel. He’s a difficult child, making his own weapons and talking about killing monsters – even to the point where he’s pulled out of school. To make matters worse, his birthday is coming up, which also coincides with the death of his father, Amelia’s lost husband. It’s a very stressful time in their household.

Which is made even worse by the inexplicable appearance of a strange pop-up book titled “Mister Babadook.” It tells the story of a monster by the same name. It terrifies Sam and sets him on an obsessive path to try to protect both himself and his mother from the creature. Amelia’s closer inspection shows the book predicting horrible things happening, things that she will do to her child.

Amelia tries to convince her son the monster isn’t real, but strange occurrences prove otherwise. Will mother and son be able to contend with the Babadook? Or will they find themselves overwhelmed?

It’s spooky, it’s smart, and tells a gut-wrenching story that left my stomach in knots.  Those who prefer a faster paced film or expecting a straight-up monster movie will be disappointed; The Babadook is not that kind of film. The slow tension is well worth it though, as we get to know Amelia and her son so well while they’re tormented, which only ups the ante emotionally. A horror movie is so much better when you actually give a damn about the characters.

In fact, I enjoyed the film so much that I pre-ordered my very own copy of the pop-up book shown in the film. It just hope it reaches the minimum amount of orders so it’ll actually get printed. Fingers crossed!

Okay, so I’d like to get in a little deeper at this point. I’ll be discussing different plot points throughout the film. If you’re wary of spoilers, DON’T READ PAST THIS POINT. You’ve been warned!

So, I imagine it’s safe to say that this monster is a personification of grief. It’s very clear that Amelia is still dealing with the loss of her husband, even after six years. Sam doesn’t get to celebrate his birthday on the proper date because it’s the same as his father’s death, and Amelia keeps all his old things down in their cellar. This grief leaves them very isolated from other people as they’re unable to connect with family or create new relationships.

As Amelia’s grief starts to overwhelm her, the tension builds and the Babadook makes himself known. This is especially true when Amelia’s mental state starts deteriorating and she gets ‘possessed.’ Grief-stricken people often lash out, even at the ones they love. There is a monster inside her, but it’s her own emotions that make her act out.

They say you can’t get rid of the Babadook, and that makes total sense if he and grief are one and the same. Those who have suffered the loss never really get over it. That pain will always be with them, and Amelia and her son are no exception. The solution is simple: you learn to live with it. It becomes a part of you and your daily life that you acknowledge and look after. In Amelia’s case that means keeping it in your basement and feeding it bugs from the garden, but hey, people often deal with their grief in strange ways!

Perhaps in a way all are secretly looking after a babadook of our own. How do you live with yours?

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