Happy 2015 readers, and welcome to my first post of the New Year and its become one of my most read regular posts- the Weekly Recommendation. I’m starting this years with the last film I saw in 2014 ‘The Babadook’ as this really was the best horror movie of the year without question as it really focused on characters, relationships, mood and story telling; all of which are rare in modern horror movies.
The story follows Amelia, a widowed orderly, has raised her son Samuel alone following her husband’s tragic death. Sam begins displaying erratic behavior: he rarely sleeps through the night, and is constantly preoccupied with an imaginary monster, which he has built weapons to fight. Amelia is forced to take her son out of school due to his ongoing behavioral problems. One night, Sam asks his mother to read from a mysterious pop-up storybook he found on his shelf. The story, titled “Mister Babadook”, is about a supernatural creature; once someone is made aware of its existence, the monster torments that person indefinitely. Amelia is disturbed by the book’s contents, while a traumatized Sam becomes convinced that the Babadook is stalking them in their home.
What makes this movie so special within the genre is that it doesn’t go for hugely clichéd death scenes and a big cast that you don’t know or care anything about instead giving us two main characters and a small cast of other people who barely see any real screen time but are there to further the story. The dynamic between Amelia and her son is very well developed, the first entire half of the movie is dedicated to show in how their life is day to day and how the dynamic of their situation affects there feelings towards one another, which means the second half of the movie really works and the story seems logical and makes sense.
The movie is clearly independent and didn’t receive a huge budget, however they have created a very clever ‘monster’ that doesn’t really show itself most of the time and when it does most of it is physiological fear from the viewer so the dark and hardly viewed figure is still scary, more so than a lot of crazed horror movie killers are these days. The Babadook is well used, as he isn’t overly revealed and when you do get to see his main shot it involves him being on the ceiling and horribly shifting his body around meaning you still don’t get a clear shot of him- leaving you with a horrid vision of how he could look compared to the visions of him within the book. The book is also well used, as seeing the story evolve through this is great and a neat little trick to really up the tension and scare factor with in this story.
What really sells this movie, is the sheer quality of the acting and the desire you have for Samuel to escape and make it through this mess, which is all thanks to the development given in the first half of the movie. Watching events transpire you always feel like Samuel could still make it through in one piece, and you begin to route for him as he is truly a likeable kid that just needed and wanted his love for his mother to be reciprocated.
The movie does everything right for a modern horror film, it really focuses on your desire to see the characters live and keeps the cast small making the stakes higher. If there’s a better horror film from 2014 I can’t remember seeing it. This is one you need to watch.