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The Babadook: Grief Monster

Posted in Children, Family, Film, Horror, Monsters, Movies, Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by Stephanie Selby


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?

Thoughts on “The Woman In Black”

Posted in Horror, Movies, Scary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2012 by Stephanie Selby

So I saw “The Woman in Black” on the weekend and figured I’d put my thoughts about the film on here. I know this comes a bit belated, especially when it’s already been out for over two weeks, but I really just want to start some discussion. As a warning I assume that you have already watched the film, or at least don’t care too much about spoilers.

The Woman in Black is a slow-paced horror film that creates a great foreboding mood rather than something gory or really scary. This may bother those that expect more from a scary film, so I suggest you adjust your expectations. There are a couple of jump scares throughout, but not enough to annoy me. In any case, I have to say I really like films that can create a creepy atmosphere compared to gore-fests like Hostel, although each type has their perks. I guess I just have a soft spot for the older style of ghost stories that some might call cliché. However, I’m not completely biased; several times I was getting “Grudge” flashbacks and there were a few unclear points that left me with a lot of questions.

I was left rather perplexed with the actions of the townsfolk. I know that they just want Arthur out of there, but why hold back all that paperwork when it was just raising more questions? Being so secretive only brought more attention from the firm and if they had just been forthright Arthur never would have had to make the trip in the first place.

As for Arthur, why didn’t he just gather all the paperwork himself and get the hell out of there? He had to go to that house several times. I can understand that he’s trying to salvage his job at this point, but why keep going back to that dilapidated, creepy house when he could have just taken what he needed?

The end of the film also raised some issues with me. One could argue that his efforts were pointless, but in the film’s defense it was the only option that Arthur could attempt and I have to give the film credit for not usual ‘putting the ghost to rest’ cliché. In Arthur’s case it’s better to try to do something than be resigned to let that ghost kill his child. Granted it didn’t work, but it’s no stretch to imagine that a person, living or dead, is incapable of forgiveness.

What I found really strange at the end of the film was how Arthur and his son could be guided to the other side. It’s established that the other children were trapped and pretty much stuck with that woman. What made Arthur and his kid so special? Yeah, Arthur’s dead wife was there to guide them, but I’m sure the other kids have dead relatives that could do the same just as easily. And what happens with the woman in black now? Is she just going to go on killing? I’m a bit disappointed that things were left unresolved with her.

I know that much of my opinion points out the flaws of this movie, but I have to say that overall I really enjoyed the film. I managed to keep a sense of humor and the film did keep my interest. I feel this certainly isn’t a waste of money and I wouldn’t mind watching it again, which is definitely more than I can say with a lot of films these days.

The weird thing is when the movie was over and I was walking out of the theater, I overheard someone say “that was terrible.” Of course I didn’t say anything and continued on my way, but I was still perplexed by the comment. I know people have their own tastes, horror films being no exception, but for some reason I still find it weird. Was this person’s expectations about “The Woman in Black” skewed? Was it something else entirely? Or is it me with the bad taste?

So anyone out there enjoy my thoughts on this flick? If you saw it, what did you think of “The Woman in Black” and why? Would you like me to continue this sort of thing with other movies or would you rather I just stick to writing fiction? Should I really just stop asking questions?

Thoughts on Contagion

Posted in Dangerous Diseases, Movies with tags , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by Stephanie Selby

Well it has been quite awhile since I have posted here on my little blog; an eternity by internet standards. Life have been changing for me since my graduation and made keeping up with the site difficult, especially since I’ve been in a bit of a bind for ideas and have had a hard time working up to doing any writing. I’m sorry that I have taken such a long hiatus and I plan to do more in the future. I just have to learn to stay focused, which I’m sure is going to be an interesting challenge.

So I saw Contagion last weekend, I highly enjoyed it, and I feel like talking about it here. This is really more of a critique than a review, as I don’t want to write around important events in the film. It’s going to be a simple analysis of the film and its events. This is going to be a spoileriffic article; you have been warned!

Contagion is supposed to be a realistic depiction of a serious pandemic affecting the world and how officials deal with the crisis. I think they managed to capture what might happen in such a situation rather well.  It’s also really refreshing to see a disease movie treated this way instead of an overblown end-of-the-world type disease where Hollywood has to skew scientific facts to create a fictional deadly pathogen. Another thing that’s always bugged me about most films that deal with scientific issues is that scientists always seem to oversimplify things in their dialogue, even when they’re talking amongst themselves. It’s not a realistic way for scientists and other types of experts to talk amongst their colleagues. The closest the film comes to a heavy-handed explanation is when Dr. Mears explains disease transfer to Michigan officials.

The only real problem I have with this movie is the story of the blogger Krumwiede with his reporter friend Lorraine and the French doctor Leonora that was ransomed. They didn’t appear often and I had difficulty remembering who some of them were. There was a scene or two with Lorraine and I couldn’t remember who she was until she had another scene with Krumwiede. Leonora’ s story pretty much ends with her desperately running back to a town in Hong Kong and it’s not known what comes of that. It honestly makes me wonder if there are some extra scenes with them that were left out of the final cut. Don’t get me wrong, these characters were written for an important reason; the inequalities between countries and to question the ethics of who gets treatment first when there’s only a limited amount of resources. While I understand why these scenes were important, it might have been better to downplay them, tell these parts of the story from more established perspectives or cut them out of the film entirely.

Strangely enough the part I liked best was the explanation for how the disease first arose. After all the devastation that this disease has caused,  the audience gets to see how the disease was formed and spread to humans. First from a sickly bat that few to a pig’s farm and finally to the cook that prepared the pig. Even after the human population has recovered from this, the chance to see how it all began is a reminder that this disaster has a simple cause. It’s easy to imagine that something like this could actually happen.

A new story is coming soon, and boy is it weird, even by my standards. If you know anything about me, you know that’s saying something.