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Friday, September 2, 2016

Movie Review: The Babadook (2014) and The Art of Noise

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Directed By: Jennifer Kent
Written By: Jennifer Kent
Release Date: November 28, 2014
Rating: A+

My Thoughts:  
People used to live quietly. Things were once peaceful  until the creation of machines in the 19th Century. It was then that noise was born. Noise in film is the interruption of silence. It can enhance the emotion of a certain scene and more importantly, if the sound is loud enough, it can also cause enough ruckus to change the tone of an entire film

The Babadook is a quiet film.Everything in her house besides Sam's occasional ruckus is quiet...We hear the creaking of the floorboards, the shuffling of the characters' feet, the turning of the pages of the children's book and this simple sounds are what become more-and-more terrifying as the film progresses. As a viewer, we're put on the edge wondering whether or not this mysterious creature is going to pop up out at us soon we  begin to associate simple things, like the opening of a fridge, as something to be wary of because we're waiting to see this monster. We spend most of the film just watching and waiting for it only to be let down that we got wasn't a monster movie. While we don't get to see the monster in action, it's these sounds and our intense curiosity of when the creature will appear that keeps us watching. Even during the film's most boring scenes, the film's shadowy dark cinematography  has us squinted to see if maybe we can catch a glimpse at this creature before it suddenly pops out at us like we probably expect because of the way other horror movies operate.

In The Babadook, what we have here is essentially a horror movie, or at least it's supposed to be. However, it's more so a gripping drama about a mother and son. The horror lies more in the aspect of grief and what it can do to people rather than the frightening monster that seemingly lurks around these people's home. We can even feel it's presence and even more importantly, we can hear it scattering through the halls as they go about their lives, but we never once get a glance at the very creature we're supposed to fear. But that's the point of the film. Just as you can't see the creature in this movie, what we're actually supposed to be fearful of also cannot be seen by the naked eye.

"If it's in a word, if it's in a look...You can't get rid of the Babadook." 

This is the movie's tagline. Amelia's husband was killed while driving her to the hospital of have her son, Sam, and it's been a year or so an she still can't let her husband go. It's in his name, it's in her son's face, it's in everything he's touched (which she's conveniently locked away in the basement), but Amelia can't seem to get rid of the mere thought of her husband and it's what drives her deeper and deeper into her sadness, which manifests itself into what her and her son know as "The Babadook." Like I said before, you barely see The Babadook and that's the point of the film as her depression is what creates The Babadook in the first place and in depression, like all other mental illnesses, is a monster in itself that we can't physically see. When you're going through so many things and experiencing so many emotions that you cannot control, it's scary when no one else can see it or even help you strong. Amelia's sister doesn't understand, nor does anyone else, so Amelia is battling The Babadook alone and it's only she that can try and destroy it because she's the one who created it in the first place. It's stated earlier in the film that she used to write children's books and the Babadook is manifested and brought to life through a children's book. She's battling her demons all by herself with the only person able to help her is the very thing she feels caused her sadness in the first place. She holds Sam accountable for her husband's death as they got into the accident on the way to have him. While she's still his mother and she loves him, literally looking at her son reminds her of her dead husband and it sends her spiraling down deeper into her depression until she snaps and give in to the monster.

Many monster movies like Jaws or Alien physically give us something to be afraid of and The Babadook does that in a way as well, but the monster is depression. The monster is within many of us as many people face depression affects about 350 million people and many people with depression, like myself, are constantly fearful of the day that it'll hit you so hard you'll do something you regret. The way depression works in the case is represented in Amelia's possession. It's at this point that she attempts to murder her son and kill the dog, but she's not herself. When people get into these manic, depressive states, they're not acting like they usually would. While it may not go to the extremes Amelia is presenting, it's scary to think about just what you would do if you broke like this; if you couldn't hold your own and gave into the monster that is depression.  How would you react? What would you do? And more importantly, what would you do if it was affecting the ones you love?

At the end of the film, it's shown that Amelia and Sam have locked the monster away and bring food down into the basement for it to eat. It doesn't just go away after one fight. She keeps is locked away and deals with it to her liking to keep it under wraps, just as depressive people do with therapy and medication. Because the film keeps The Babadook's presence still in Amelia's life, it proves that while we have won the battle, we haven't even begun to fight the war.

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