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