HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE BABADOOK

Starring

Essie Davis (Game of Thrones)
Noah Wiseman (Spaghetti)
Hayley McElhinney (Doctor Doctor)
Daniel Henshall (Ghost In The Shell)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Chloe)

Noah Wiseman in The Babadook (2014)Amelia Vanek is a troubled and exhausted widow who has brought up her six-year-old son Samuel alone. Her late husband, Oskar, was killed in a car accident that occurred as he drove Amelia to the hospital during her labour. Sam begins displaying erratic behaviour: he becomes an insomniac and is preoccupied with an imaginary monster, against which he has built weapons to fight. Amelia is forced to pick up her son from school after Sam brings one of the weapons there. One night, Sam asks his mother to read a pop-up storybook called Mister Babadook. It describes the titular monster, the Babadook, a tall pale-faced humanoid in a top hat with taloned fingers who torments its victims after they become aware of its existence. Amelia is disturbed by the book and its mysterious appearance, while Sam becomes convinced that the Babadook is real. Sam’s persistence about the Babadook leads Amelia to often have sleepless nights as she tries to comfort him.Essie Davis in The Babadook (2014)Soon after, strange events occur: doors open and close mysteriously by themselves, strange sounds are heard and Amelia finds glass shards in her food. She attributes the events to Sam’s behaviour, but he blames the Babadook. Amelia rips up the book and disposes of it. At her birthday party, Sam’s cousin Ruby bullies Sam for not having a father, in response to which he pushes her out of her tree house; as a result she breaks her nose in two places. Amelia’s sister Claire admits she cannot bear Sam, to which Amelia takes great offence. On the drive home, Sam has another vision of the Babadook and suffers a febrile seizure, after which Amelia makes a successful plea for sedatives to a pediatrician.Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman in The Babadook (2014)The following morning, Amelia finds the Mister Babadook book reassembled on the front door step. New words taunt her by saying that the Babadook will become stronger if she continues to deny its existence, containing pop-ups of her killing her dog Bugsy, Samuel, and then herself. Terrified, Amelia burns the book and runs to the police after a disturbing phone call. However, Amelia has no proof of the stalking, and when she then sees the Babadook’s suit hung up behind the front desk, she leaves. Amelia starts to become more isolated and shut-in, being more impatient, shouting at Samuel for ‘disobeying’ her constantly, and having frequent visions of the Babadook once again. Her mental state slowly decays further and she exhibits erratic and violent behaviour, including severing the phone line with a knife and brandishing it aggressively at Sam seemingly without realising. This mental decline culminates in several disturbing hallucinations, most of which involve the violent murder of Sam with herself as the willing perpetrator.Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman in The Babadook (2014)Shortly after these visions, Amelia sees an apparition of Oskar, who embraces her benevolently and agrees to return. However, he then demands that Amelia “give(s) him the boy” in return, implying he is a conjuration of the Babadook. Fleeing, Amelia is stalked by the Babadook through the house until it takes over her and finally possesses her. Under its influence she breaks Bugsy’s neck and attempts to kill Sam. Eventually luring her into the basement, Sam knocks her out. Tied up, Amelia awakens with Sam, terrified, nearby. When she tries to strangle him, he lovingly caresses her face, causing her to regurgitate an inky black substance, an action which seemingly expels the Babadook. When Sam reminds Amelia that “you can’t get rid of the Babadook,” an unseen force drags him into Amelia’s bedroom. After saving Sam, Amelia is forced by the Babadook to re-watch a vision of her husband’s death to her utter despair. Furious, she confronts the Babadook, making the beast retreat into the basement, and locks the door behind it.Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman in The Babadook (2014)After this ordeal, Amelia and Sam manage to recover. Amelia is attentive and caring toward him, encouraging him concerning the weapons he makes and being impressed at Sam’s magic tricks. They gather earthworms in a bowl, and Amelia takes them to the basement, where the Babadook resides. She places the bowl on the floor for the Babadook to eat. However, as the beast tries to attack her, Amelia calms it down, and it retreats to the corner, taking the earthworms with it. Amelia returns to the yard to celebrate Sam’s birthday.Essie Davis in The Babadook (2014)Personally, I thought about this film for days after seeing it, both because of its ambiguity and because of the themes it explores, namely mental illness and domestic violence. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s also touching and heartbreaking. While “The Babadook” belongs alongside other great psychological horror films, like “The Innocents” and “The Haunting” (1963), to classify it purely as “horror” really belittles its accomplishment as a film that challenges us to examine and discuss issues we are very uncomfortable tackling in reality.

REVIEW: THE WHITE PRINCESS

Jodie Comer in The White Princess (2017)

Main Cast

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Rebecca Benson (Macbeth)
Jacob Collins-Levy (Bloom)
Kenneth Cranham (Hellraiser II)
Essie Davis (The Babadook)
Richard Dillane (Argo)
Anthony Flanagan (The Crown)
Patrick Gibson (Tolkien)
Caroline Goodall (The Princess Diaries)
Amy Manson (Atlantis)
Adrian Rawlins (Hrry Potter)
Vincent Regan (Troy)
Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
Joanne Whalley (Daredevil)
Andrew Whipp (Outlander)
Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones)

Jodie Comer in The White Princess (2017)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Nicholas Audsley (Victoria)
Philip Arditti (Red 2)
Rossy de Palma (Kika)
Emmanuelle Bouaziz (Agathe Clery)
Nia Roberts (Keeping Faith)
Nicholas Gecks (The Lazarus Child)
Alex Sawyer (House of Anubis)

Jodie Comer and Jacob Collins-Levy in The White Princess (2017)I haven’t read the book nor do I actually care a great deal about the Tudors or the english monarchy in its more personal details. I would go so far as to say that I tend to dislike many shows in this genre because I feel like they romanticize the monarchy or use it as a decorative backdrop for some saucy love story. Anyway, that being said, I did enjoy this, although it’s far from perfect with regards to story telling. It is clearly not historically accurate, but I never once thought it would be. There are some jumps in character development that could have been smoothed over, especially with Lizzie – I definitely had to adjust a little when she suddenly turned from loyal York who planned against her husband to a loving mother and therefore devoted wife. It’s not implausible, though. I had more trouble to understand why Margaret Beaufort would be so afraid of her son finding out that she ordered the murder of the two princes in the tower. The way Henry Tudor is portrayed, having beaten to death the previous king to take the crown, it seems like he might support that decision – until the plot need it to become a huge moral dilemma in the last episode.

Essie Davis, Jodie Comer, Suki Waterhouse, and Rebecca Benson in The White Princess (2017)What I did like, however, and why I am rating it so highly, is that it is absolutely not the kind of story we are used to. I read a couple of reviews where people complained that the characters were not sympathetic. This is exactly what I love about it. This show is about a bunch of people will do anything to stay in or obtain power, and the lies they tell each other and themselves to justifiy their actions. Margaret Pole is maybe shown to be the most sympathetic, but even she neglects her own child in the end to try and save her brother. Lizzie especially is a great example that there are no good choices in a world where power is passed on along bloodlines, meaning that the only way to stay in power is to kill anyone who might have a better claim than you.Jodie Comer in The White Princess (2017)When I started watching, I was very worried that this was going to be a show about two star crossed lovers and their meddling mothers trying to play them against each other, but in the end true love prevails and they come together for the good of the country. I was glad to be wrong. Yes, Lizzie and Henry do find love, but it is hard earned and bought by time, their love for their children and the crimes they comitted together. I can totally see someone like Henry VIII coming from these parents and circumstances.Jodie Comer and Woody Norman in The White Princess (2017)This is not for people who care about historical accuracy or want to see good people overcome obstacles and grow together, or a good vs. evil type story. If you like Game of Thrones, this may be your cup of tea. It’s a pretty ugly story at times about some despicable people, but if you are a bit forgiving of it’s rough around the edges story-telling, it’s actually quite fascinating.