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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Babadook

Psychological horror: It's just a movie; it cannot hurt you

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2014) Checking beneath the bed with her six-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) for monsters before reading to him from a book, Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis), a widowed single mother, tends to choose stories that might frighten an impressionable boy. "This monster thing has got to stop," she insists when he arms himself with weapons for protection during the day.

Called at work where she's employed as a caregiver in a facility for the elderly, Amelia goes to Samuel's school to be informed that her son's unusual behavior (once again bringing a dangerous object to his first-grade class) will necessitate his having a fulltime monitor. She removes Samuel from the school.

Nearly seven years ago, on the way to the hospital to give birth, Amelia's husband Oskar was killed in a car crash. Samuel has never celebrated his birthday on his natal anniversary. An Australian psychological horror/thriller written and directed by Jennifer Kent has things going bump in the night: It's just a movie; it cannot hurt you.

Amelia's sister Claire (Hayley McElhinney), along with her daughter Ruby, feels uncomfortable around Samuel. An elderly neighbor, Mrs Roach, suffering from Parkinson's disease, says of Samuel: "He sees things as they are, that one."

Sam picks out from the shelf a large red book with popups for bedtime, Mister Babadook. "You can't get rid of the Babadook," Amelia reads the first sentence, but by the time she gets to the creepy end, she isn't saying the words aloud: "And once you see what's underneath, you're going to wish you were dead." Amelia tries to calm Sam: "It's just a book. It cannot hurt you."

Oskar's things are packed away in boxes in the basement where Sam pretends to battle monsters or practice his magic tricks. Acting aggressively with wild tantrums, Sam incessantly talks about, and sometimes to, the Babadook, warning his mother: "I don't want you to die."

Amelia rips apart the book and takes Sam to a physician, who prescribes sedatives until Sam can be taken to see a psychiatrist. Three knocks, then three loud bangs on the front door, which Amelia opens to find the book returned and repaired: "I'll make you a bet. The more you deny, the stronger I get."

The graphic popups are suggestive of a woman strangling a dog and murdering a child. Amelia burns the book.

Two people from the social services, Warren and Prue, pay a visit to Amelia and Samuel about making arrangements for his going to another school.

"Let me in!" The Babadook enters Samuel's bedroom while mother and child are sleeping in the bed; Amelia wakes to see it and screams. A transformation of Amelia occurs, making her at times angrily threatening toward Sam, saying horrible things about wishing he were dead, while otherwise protective.

Unable to sleep, she watches tv at night, programs and movies with violent themes and images, including a news report of a mother who stabbed to death her son who'd just turned seven. In the basement she sees what appears to be Oskar, who says to her: "You just need to bring me the boy." Sam yells at her: "You're not my mother!"

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2014 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)