Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Babadook (2014)

Number Rolled: 51
Movie Name/Year: The Babadook (2014)
Tagline: If it’s in a word. Or it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of… the Babadook.
Genre: Thriller
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Screen Australia, Causeway Films, South Australian Film Corporation, Smoking Gun Productions, Entertainment One
Producer: Pete Best, Julie Byrne, Kristina Ceyton, Jan Chapman, Jeff Harrison, Kristian Moliere, Jonathan Page, Michael Tear
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Actors: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall, Barbara West, Benjamin Winspear, Chloe Hurn, Tim Purcell, Hachi

Blurb from Netflix: Sam’s frequent tantrums turn sinister when a creepy children’s book mysteriously appears in his room, and he asks his mother, “Do you want to die?”

Selina’s Point of View:
I enjoyed The Babadook.

This film seemed to start slow, but it was really a simmering burn that caused the thrills that came later to be more effective. It didn’t rely on jump scares at all. I have a feeling Alfred Hitchcock would have liked The Babadook, if only on the merit of its successful suspense.

There were some minor issues I had, but when I found out this was Jennifer Kent’s (The New Adventures of Black Beauty, Babe: Pig in the City, Murder Call) first time writing or directing a full length feature film, it began to make sense.

As a first film goes, The Babadook was extraordinary. The issues I noted had to do with the ending and the camera angles. I recognize them now as novice mistakes, which makes them less of an issue.

The acting was great, even from young Noah Wiseman (Funny or Die Presents, Spaghetti, The Gift). He did have some of that over-acting, strange facial expression stuff that child actors tend to have, but it wasn’t so bad that it pulled me out of the story.

I might watch The Babadook again if it happened to be on, though I wouldn’t really seek it out for a second showing. What I do want to see is how Jennifer Kent evolves as a director/writer. I look forward to whatever her next project might be.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie was unsettling and disturbing on a few levels.

Something is still lingering with me, even now, the day after I watched the film.

That, however, is one of the earmarks of a horror movie that has done its job well, right? This one nailed it.

I woke up in the middle of the night and nearly jumped out of my skin. (It’s a minor miracle that this happened quietly, and that I didn’t shriek loud enough to wake the neighbors.)

I had some dark clothing draped over the handle bars of my exercise bike at the foot of my bed; producing a “shadow creature” in silhouette against the faint light from the windows beyond.

For me, the psychological aspect of the thrills from suspense and subtlety digs in and lingers to haunt me better than any image from flashy and expensive special effects. It’s one of those love-hate side effects of a vivid imagination.

I found myself questioning reality versus madness as Essie Davis (Charlotte's Web, Australia, Burning Man) brought her bedraggled character to life, brilliantly.

Noah Wiseman surprised me with his performance as young Samuel. This was his first movie role, and he knocked it out of the park. I thought, surely, I’d see a slew of projects in his film credits – even if they were titles only released overseas, but there are only 4 starting with The Babadook. If he chooses to continue with acting, I see great things in his future if he can avoid the pitfalls that tend to ensnare child actors.

This movie was highly deserving of all of its accolades (mostly in Australia and internationally); and, frankly, should have received more recognition here. Though, such is often the case with independent “foreign” films.

For your bit of fun trivia; The Babadook popup book was published in a limited run. Copies were available for $80.00; and some of them were autographed by the writer/director, Jennifer Kent (The Well, Babe: Pig in the City, Preservation). The book includes extra pages and tidbits that did not appear in the movie.

Don’t be looking for a sequel, though. Kent owns the rights and has stated for public record that she will not be revisiting this story. This isn't a tale that needs a franchise - I think it's fabulous standing on its own.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 98%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 73%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely loved this movie! It was something I never heard of and was pleasantly surprised at how scared it made me feel. I love movies that can make you feel like your in the moment or make you imagine how it would feel if you were in this predicament. The last time I felt like this was when I watched the blair witch project. It was a movie I enjoyed watching with my kids. We all enjoyed it very much! Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys being scared!!!