November 20, 2014

VOD Review: The Babadook (2014)
(aka Mum is Off Her Nut.)
Release Date: November 28th.
Country: Australia.
Rating: Unrated.
Written & Directed by: Jennifer Kent.
Starring: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, and The Babadook.

About half-way through The Babadook, I nearly turned it off. I was expecting a story about a loving mother protecting her young son from some sort of unseen menace, and what I had gotten up to that point was the story of a whiny, annoying kid whose namby-pamby mother couldn't control him. The kid honestly annoyed me so much, that when the mom said "Why don't you go and eat shit!" to him, I was like "finally, she tells that little fucker to piss off!"

Maybe we were having an off day. Who can say.

As annoying as it all was towards the beginning though, I'm really glad I stuck it out, because the third act of The Babadook went to a great place, justified its previous annoyances, and ended up being a pretty solid movie.

*This is going to be a quick review, because we'd really like to keep things as spoiler-free as possible, and thus we cant say as much about it as we'd like to.

Seven years after the death of her husband (as he rushed her to the hospital to give birth to their son), Amelia and Samuel (the son) are still grieving over their terrible loss. Samuel is hyperactive and mischievous, and Amelia is visibly shaken and timid, letting her son run amok, lacking the strength to smack him senseless when he needs it.

Enter into both of their lives a mysterious book called Mr. Babadook; a scary, supernatural tale of a monster that asks to be "let in" to your life, presumably so he can kill and/or eat you. This story terrifies Samuel, which illustrates that Amelia doesn't make the best decisions as a parent, because the kid is troubled enough without reading him a terrifying story before bedtime, isn't he?

Well, The Babadook does come knocking, but Amelia is so scared that she just hides under her covers, leaving it to roam the halls of her house, free to kill her son if it so chooses. Samuel, on the other hand, decides to make odd traps and weapons in an effort to defend he and his mum against The Babadook. The poor kid is 6, and he's apparently the only responsible adult in the house.

From here on out, all sorts of creepy things happen to both mother and child, but we'd be remiss to discuss them, since doing so would spoil the twists and turns that the movie takes. Suffice it to say though, that if you can make it through to the third reel of this film, not only are you a trooper, but you'll be rewarded with a genuinely terrifying climax that will leave you thinking about this movie for days after.

The Babadook is a really solid movie that irked the shit out of us for most of its first hour. We try to remain as laid back as possible during most movies, but the one thing that always gets us is annoying characters, and for the first half or so of this movie, both the mom and kid were genuinely aggravating. To be fair, it was mostly the kid that irked us, mainly due to his incessant whining and screaming, and whinging, and acting out... and it got so bad that we didn't care if The Babadook killed him or not. Sounds insensitive, I know, but there it is.

As for the mom, she couldn't or wouldn't control her kid, and it frustrated us to watch. Now, there was a good reason for her frustrating demeanor and behavior, as she had been suffering from serious post-traumatic stress from the death of her husband, but it still worked the nerves. Her snotty sister and bratty niece were no help either, as both of them were awful to she and her son. It bothered us that they were so dismissive of Amelia and Samuel, when they clearly needed help.

We get that most of the character's behavior and actions may have been amplified to illustrate how Amelia saw things through the eyes of her PTS, but it still grated on us. We truly believe that this is the reason that The Babadook is so great though; because we were supposed to see things the way that we did, and react to them exactly how we did, and it was all by design. We basically experienced things through Amelia's eyes, and by doing so, we understood her actions better, and empathized with her far more. Clever stuff.

With all of that said, please understand that The Babadook is a very smart and effective movie. Yes, so much of what occurred in its early-going was manic, and it did test our patience, but it all began to make narrative sense once the events of the final act began to unfold, and so our frustration all but disappeared for the most part.

The movie offers up plenty of scares in a variety of different ways, all of which get more intense as the film wears on. We really can't give specifics without spoiling, but trust us when we say that you'll most likely be on the edge of your seat before it's over. The Babadook's voice was especially great, and we wish that the movie had featured more of him/it. Every time he spoke, we got chills.

Essie Davis turns in an intense performance as a disturbed woman who has to overcome her own demons in order to protect her son from what might be an actual Demon (at least of sorts), and she deserves all the credit in the world for pulling it off so well.

On a side note, we'd absolutely buy a copy of that pop-up book if it were ever made available for sale. And yes, we'd read it to unsuspecting kids. We're creepy like that. 

We found The Babadook to be a trying movie, while at the same time being a clever, fresh, and ultimately satisfying one as well. The themes that it explores are fairly deep and complex, and once the third reel kicked in, the way that the film handled them was truly horrific.

If you're looking for something fresh and different, then check it out when it hits VOD on November 28th, or watch it now if you have DirecTV.


The Babadook is available now on DirecTV, and will be available on VOD and in Theaters on November 28th (U.S.)

Essie Davis is in this.


  1. I've seen online that they are trying to get the book made, which I would happily buy. And as for the kid in this film, he annoyed the hell out of me

  2. For a change, instead of disagreeing with you on your giving the movie a higher grade than I would have; I'll do the opposite. I would have given this film an 'A' for the superb acting by the 2 leads. If this wasn't a small budget, foreign genre film, Ms Davis would be in line for an Oscar nomination. As for the kid; like you and his mom, I wanted to strangle him but it was an awesome piece of acting by a non-professional 6 year old. The plot was original and handled it in an engrossing way. The scares were there in the second half of the film with the one shocking scene - you know the one. From your review, I think we agree on what 'The Babadook' is really about but as you included no spoilers, neither will I - though I am dying to. Also the house - superb set like the house in 'The Pact' and the one in 'Housebound.'

  3. Zocial, they're doing "pre-orders" for the book on the Oficial Babadook site right now. It's $80 (ouch), and if they sell more than 2000 pre-orders, they'll actually produce it.

  4. Can't argue, Anon... the acting was superb, especially from Essie Davis.

    The only reason it was a B instead of an A for us, was because we still have that tiny bit of bad tatse in our mouth from the annoying bits. We wouldn't argue with anyone giving it an A grade though, because it really was a great movie, and deserving of praise.

    And spoilers... yeah, it's hard to talk about this one without spoiling it for the uninitiated. Let me say that the "twist" reminded me a lot of the resoloution of Session 9...

  5. I really liked this film. It had a nice story, and was effective without the typical jump-scare tactics that horror films use nowadays. Reminded me of The Canal (2014) in so many ways! I also loved the short film on which this film was based.

  6. i liked it - it was the perfect flick to watch late last night and as usual , i saw the 3+ masters and went to watch ...then i read the review : )
    i really liked it and its flicks like this that keep me interested in the genre.
    the kid was the only nightmare (agreed)

    thanks , as always , for bringing these suggestions to us - great review

  7. It reminded us od tghe Canal too, in a way. Both are very solid flicks.

    Glad you liked it, Howard. Stick with the 3+ Master thing, and you will never go wrong... well, mostly. :)

  8. Have you guys reviewed 'It Follows', your website is unfortunately quite unorganized, so I have no idea how to find that review if you have reviewed it. Also just wondering which movie was better 'The Babadook' or 'It Follows'?

  9. Unorganized? We have every review we've ever done organized by year, decade, and sorted A-Z at the top of the site where it says "reviews." They're also listed by year and decade on the sidebar.

    There's also a large graphic that says "2014 review archive" at the top, which has all of the reviews that we've done for 2014 films, listed A-Z. We haven't reviewed It Follows yet, because it hasn't been released, but if we had, it would be there.

    There's also a poster for The Babadook at the very top of the page, that has our review grade on it. Click that, and it will take you to the review. As another option, there's a "Our New & Noteworthy Reviews..." section on the sidebar towards the top, that lists the last 35 movies that we've reviewed.

    Failing all of that, there's a search bar at the top, above everything else.

    I'm honestly not sure how we could be any better organized than all of that. Hope that helps.

  10. You have to approach this movie as a piece of deeply inspired art rather then a superficial horror flick in order to understand it.The very opening scene your are immersed into a nightmarish dreamlike state the protagonist has awoken to for seven years suffering with her disorder and you enter at the breaking point.This is a psychological study and example of the very creation of myths and possession in folklore from a real ignored issue of mental health the child and mother are both victim and this movie has so many other layers to it,it is truly an experience this movie is art genre defying art.

  11. Great review, you guys. Although I can see where you could get annoyed, it didn't bug me as bad as you.

    Totally agree with the final act being super cool. One of the creepiest films I've seen in years.

  12. Yeah sorry guys, I'm not buying it, this ending you guys think happened didn't, and was really just a monster movie after all.

  13. As someone who has developed a pretty thick Critic's Shield from years of watching standard haunted house/possessed human/mythological-creature fare, I have to say I was genuinely freaked out by some of the passages in The Badabook.

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