Having heard a few people mention it being quite good and critics giving it like 98% ‘good’ rating, I had high expectations. And as with my streak of high-hopes-terrible-outcome films like “It Follows”, this was exactly the same.
Evidently low-budgeted (filmed almost entirely inside a house) with no obvious digital effects (not required; however the lack of presence of anything that looks/sounds/feels scary makes its ‘horror’ tag obsolete and misleading), I thought it must have a great atmosphere to induce so much fear and be so well-received.
Containers spoilers, duh.
I thought wrong. A mum loses her shit because she (understandably) can’t get over the death of her husband on the day of her child’s birth and can’t cope as a single parent to a rambunctious young boy just makes me wonder why social services hasn’t given her any support at all. Then I remembered this is the USA. The child actor is quite simply amazing: suitably irritating when screaming his head off, believable acting, very sincere in everything he says.
Oh right, it’s a scary film. OK. Starts with subtle shutting doors, the child mentioning scary things, then mum gets invaded by the monster, goes apeshit on the child and tries killing him. The use of ambience and music in the background is pretty good – found myself getting a little agitated without realising why, then the music cuts out and I find out. But there is no scary presence, no edge-of-my-seat bated breath, no clenched buttcheeks. There are no jump scares (which in itself isn’t a good/bad thing) but there are no scares at all. Period. The Babadook ends up looking like a cross between a fat Slenderman and Freddie Krueger, in the two seconds that I saw him.
Cut to climax: mother defeats the “you can’t get rid of him” Babadook by screaming at him. And threatening to kill him if he comes near her child again.
Cut to end of film: mother feeds Babadook, which now lives in her basement, worms.
I mean, this isn’t a horrifically tragic film by any means (I’m looking at you, Insidious and The Conjuring and Annabelle and It Follows) but considering its hype, it’s deadly disappointing. At least I managed to the end of the film.
“The best Australian horror film in years”? You’ve got to be sh*tting me.
Verdict: 1 star.