(Note: Spoilers ahead) When I watched “The Babadook,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was certainly different than any other horror film I had ever seen. I quickly realized it was less of a horror flick and more of a representation of a woman’s journey of overcoming her deepest fears.
The movie opens with the protagonist, Amelia (Essie Davis), in a slow-motion car accident. It doesn’t take long to realize she’s dreaming about her husband’s violent death. We learn he died in a car accident while driving her to the hospital to give birth to their son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). It’s evident Amelia is afraid to accept her husband’s death. Not only is she a widowed mother, but her son has an obsession with monsters, which causes them to be shunned from society.
One night, Samuel grabs a book titled “Mister Babadook” off his bookshelf. He starts to see this Babadook character, and his belief becomes severe. After destroying the book, it ends up back on her doorstep with new writing explaining that the more she denies the Babadook’s existence, the stronger he will get.
As her own sanity dissolves to ruin, Amelia is forced to confront Babadook. Babadook tries to inhabit Amelia and influence her actions, and he demands she give him her son. Amelia almost complies while under Babadook’s trance, but is able to gather enough strength to destroy the power he has over her.
Throughout the film, the main characters are repeatedly represented as outsiders in the plot and through several symbolic images: Amelia and Samuel are the only characters who have loose, curly hair. This is emblematic of the haphazard mess Samuel and Amelia are living in, blocked by uncontrolled emotional baggage.
Like the book, Samuel is a consistent reminder of Amelia’s dead husband. As a single mother who works full time, she constantly wishes for what could have been. Babadook’s promise is a symbol of the danger in letting our fears control us.
Though the movie was well done with respect to using abstract symbols to drive a realistic point home, it wasn’t easy to sit through. If you’re looking for a horror flick, this is not it. Though it doesn’t end in tragedy, the ending was the only part of the film that was not tragic.
The Hippodrome State Theatre and the Gainesville Fine Arts Association will be hosting the Hipp Holiday Art Walk and Art Market in downtown this weekend. The events will feature artwork by local artists.