There are several coping mechanisms that I use when watching a horror movie. My favourite is keeping a cardigan nearby, and watching the tense scenes through it. Cardigans are the perfect thickness for obscuring most of the scariness without blocking the screen entirely. Hoodies are no good, as I sadly learnt whilst watching It Follows, they’re just too thick. They’re perfect for weepy movies though, I just pull up the hood and hide myself away. My latest trick for horrors that I can find on VOD however is watching on my tablet with headphones. Super easy to look away from and tear out a headphone when the creepy music is just too much.
The Babadook (2014) is a wonderfully creepy movie. Amelia (Essie Davis) is still struggling with the tragic death of her husband 7 years ago. Her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is having problems of his own. He’s plagued by a monster that not only keeps him awake at night, but has led to him becoming quite a violent and disturbed young boy. Just when things seem like they can’t get worse for this Mother and Son, they read a book called Mister Babadook, turning their lives into a living nightmare.
I got pulled into a false sense of security with this movie’s first half, which does a brilliant job at building the two leading characters and explores their backstories and the reasons why they are who they are. It honestly makes a great movie of it’s own right, without the horror part that follows. It was easy to take an instant disliking to Samuel, he seemed to be the stereotypical ‘weird kid’ you expect from a horror movie, but my heart ached for him and Amelia after a while. It was such a sad situation.
Sadly, the movie moves on from their tragedy and cranks up the scare factor once the ‘Mister Babadook’ book is found. The book itself is written in that rhyming couplet style that many children’s books are written, and starts off fairly innocent. You know, until the part about wishing you were dead. That was a bit off. Amelia does the WRONG thing by tearing the book up that night (personally I would have burnt it, and my entire house down) which I can only assume just angered the Babadook.
I can’t even tell you through words just how terrifying the sound the Babadook makes. Even through headphones rather than quality, cinema speakers, it’s chilling, and I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it. Move over Godzilla, you ain't got nothing on this hat-wearing monster.
What I liked the most was that we didn’t actually see the Babadook that often. We just didn’t need to, the atmosphere and the music is enough, and it makes those scenes with him in that bit more powerful. Admittedly, I was hiding for a lot of the final chunk of the movie, whispering (spoiler alert) ‘please not the dog’ over and over again, but it was a justified kind of scaredness, I wasn’t just hiding from endless jump scares.
I’m so glad I braved this one, and ooh boy, that ending! I won’t spoil it for anyone, but it was definitely not what I was expecting.