The Babadook is another from that stable, with an Australian mother and child Amelia and Samuel being menaced in their large home by a creepy thing from a book. The book in question is, much like this film, called The Babadook, and it describes in pop-up form a demonic being that looks a little like an evil Totoro.
The plot of the book is that its title character will come into your home and wreck your shit, and that’s the end, and so mother and son are understandably freaked out by this.
It also doesn’t help that the book keeps returning after being locked away and ripped up and burned.
It’s a stealth possession film in some ways, as most of the monster’s evil deeds are carried out by the mother under its influence; the second half of the film is basically spelled out by the reccurence of the book with a different plot.
I’m usually largely immune to annoying characters in films, mainly because a lot of people in real life are annoying, and they deserve representation too. But damn, the kid in The Babadook – despite being legitimately traumatised, and correct that they’re being haunted – is so monumentally whiny that it detracts from the atmosphere of fear they’re trying to generate and left me openly hoping that he would be eaten by the monster as quickly as possible.
His personification of irritation is, I suppose, a function of the plot, as his mother gets more and more worn down by a combination of him acting out and the large shadowy presence that’s hanging around the house.
Bad parts paragraph: See above, re: whiny child. There’s also one scene of dodgy CG, which knocks down the atmosphere, and is further disappointing because the rest of the film is done mostly with shadows and suggestion. The scary parts for the majority are a bit rote, but can be effective. If your monster can only say its own name, consider giving it a less silly one.
Good parts paragraph: The scary parts can be effective, despite being a bit rote. There’s plenty of things-moving-in-shadows type creepiness. The mother-son relationship is strong and believable, and that is important when the monster’s influence causes her to turn on him; I found the most frightening scene of the film to be her in a rage just screaming while Samuel cowers in the corner.
It ends strongly, with an intense climax and a weird epilogue that will make it stick in your memory.