Darling Readers, as you know, Serendipitous Anachronisms is technically a classic movie blog. Yes, occasionally we delve into the 90s or 2000s, but rarely do we ever cover something one would refer to as “contemporary media.”
How gauche, no?
So imagine my astonishment when the thought went through my mind, “I am going to watch and cover The Babadook” as I was driving home from work this afternoon. So hang on my darlings as we throw caution to the wind, throw all the rules out the window, and dive into the strange world of the Babadook. Dook. Dook.
Three years ago when the film was released, I remember hearing how scary it was, and it received very decent reviews across the board. And I thought to myself, “do I want to see another film that everyone says is scary and be disappointed, once again?” Not really.
So I passed on The Babadook, but I kept hearing fantastic reviews, and everyone kept saying, “It’s scary,” and I finally acquiesced.
Warning: I am extremely jaded. What follows is a very jaded perspective. You may find The Babadook frightening; it may even give you nightmares, but I thought the monster was stinkin’ adorable.
The Babadook is an Australian film about a widowed mother Amelia (Essie Davis) who lives alone with her son Sam (Noah Wiseman), her son has “issues” and hits a classmate with a dart. The mother, rather than allowing the school to correct her child decides to pull the boy out of school.
Then one day a mysterious book appears and Sam wants his mother to read it as a bedtime story.
Rule #1: Never read books to kids unless you skim them. Having been traumatized by “harmless” films such as Dumbo, Bambi, The Lion King, Old Yeller, and Charlotte’s Web, I always skim for potential trauma. Does Amelia skim? Heck-to-the-no. She just goes for it and reads Sam Mister Babadook.
Mister Babadook is a pop-up book with Edward Gorey type illustrations. And being a life-long Edward Gorey fan, all I could think was “that book is super-cute, where can I get a copy?”
But apparently, this book is enough to invoke a complete melt-down of terror in Sam.
Hmmm… There is something really wrong here, everyone else is describing this film as “genuinely terrifying,” and I am getting out my India ink for a new art project because I want that book.
So Sam goes off the deep end, and Amelia follows suit, which is illustrated by her staying up late at night and watching Méliès films.
Apparently being a silent film fan, is an indicator that one is losing it.
Then Mr. Babadook starts calling her on the telephone. And what does he say? “Babadook. Dook. Dook.” And how does he sound?
Exactly like Jerry Lewis.
Okay, Jerry Lewis with gas.
But I still continue to give this film a chance, despite the nagging sensation that this film won’t frighten me.
Maybe because it’s really boring!
Or maybe it was that book; it was so gosh darn cute.
The thing is, I have trouble being frightened of anything wearing a top hat. But I am willing to assume this is the children’s book version of Mister Babadook, after all just because Jiminy Cricket wears a top hat, doesn’t mean all crickets wear top hats, right?
Rule #2: Top hats make everything adorable, so excuse me if I refrain from feelings of abject terror. Well, everything adorable except for Abraham Lincoln. He was not cute in a top hat.
And then we finally see the creature and he is wearing a top hat!
Seriously, I waited an hour and a half for a goth guy with white contact lenses and lip augmentation? And then all he says is “Babadook. Dook. Dook.”
Someone made a horror film about Gene Chandler aka “The Duke of Earl!”
Top Hat- Check, Cape- Check, “Duke Duke Duke”-Check, “Nothing can stop him?”-Check! All I can imagine is “Dook, Dook, Dook, Babadook, dook, dook” sung to the chorus of “Duke of Earl.”
Rule #3: It is hard to make a classic doo-wop song terrifying because they are so happy. And once I get a doo-wop song in my head, it stays there, and every time I hear the monster say “Babadook, dook, dook” I mentally sing along to “Duke of Earl.”
Much less to say, this movie does not frighten me.
Now I am certain some viewers may see this film as a metaphor for grief, and the monsters within. I get it. The metaphor was really clear, but all I can hear is “Dook, Dook, Dook, Babadook, Dook, Dook.”
So, my quest for a genuine scare remains unsatiated.
If you are less jaded than me, or in the mood for a slow moving film with a bland color palette, you may enjoy The Babadook. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
I promise in the next installment we will go back to the classics!
Ciao for now, dearies.