Well, it’s October, and that can only mean one thing: spending copious hours huddled under a blanket watching horror movies while gobbling unhealthy amounts of candy corn and cackling maniacally. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but my point stands: Halloween is in the horizon, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than watching scary movies.
Why bring this up? Well, amidst all the horror classics that I’m sure you might dredge up for a midnight watch, you might not have heard of a little, Australian production called "The Babadook," and that’s a shame because "The Babadook" is hands down, the most terrifying horror film ever made.
Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look. Here are three reasons why "The Babadook" is the best horror movie ever made.
1. The visuals of the film are enough to give you the willies for weeks.
Let’s be completely honest with ourselves here: in most horror movies (slashers especially) the villains simply aren’t that intimidating. I mean, take a look at Jason Voorhees.
Pictured: Hockey-Man goes for a midnight swim.
Past the whole “soul-less” gaze thing, poor ol’ Jason doesn’t really have much going for him. He looks more janitorial than homicidal. Now, let’s take a moment to look at the elusive monster from "The Babadook," shall we?
And that, kids, I why I don’t sleep anymore.
This…thing is the Babadook. It’s a horrifying monstrosity that watches you while you sleep. I could comment how it’s design is a brilliant combination of visual character and German Expressionism, but let’s be real here and just leave it at: “this is the scariest thing I have ever seen in my waking life.”
Okay, but this is just a drawing of the Babadook. Surely the real thing isn’t that bad…
WRONG. I WAS VERY WRONG.
2. The Babadook doesn’t need to jump scare to freak you out.
A common complaint about horror movies that I hear is that people don’t like jump scares. Fair enough, they’re only somewhat startling, and after they’re done, they don’t leave much of an impact.
That’s why "The Babadook" has almost no jump scares in the entirety of its ninety-five minutes. It has a few, but they’re downplayed.
Tension is the star of the show here folks. Every scene has a constant dread in it as you wait for the Babadook to come slouching out of the shadows to eat someone’s face, possess them, or otherwise, make the main characters' lives terrible.
To be fair, you wouldn't get much sleep either after seeing this thing.
In fact, a good portion of the film is spent in silent dread. The movie understands that what you don’t see is as frightening as what you do see, and it uses this to mess with your head.
3. It knows its roots and it uses them.
"The Babadook" is a clever film, because it knows that it doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. It just needs to make the wheel a whole lot scarier than the films before it.
"The Babadook" takes a lot of influence from other movies, and it knows its place in film history. It has studied horror films produced before it, and it has improved on everything.
Here’s an example: the style of the film relies heavily on chiaroscuro. (That is the use of light and darkness to convey the mood of a scene, for those of you who haven’t studied Renaissance art.) Well, before "The Babadook" used chiaroscuro to scare the pants off you, a little 1920 German film called "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" did it first.
Actually, come to think of it, how do we know Dr. Caligari isn’t the Babadook?
That’s not all. The whole descent into madness that the film chronicles (I won’t spoil it anymore) seems decidedly Gothic in nature—something in the lines of an Edgar Allen Poe piece—and to be as vague as possible, "The Babadook" seems to have been inspired by "The Exorcist," another super spooky film.
Hey, look! More nightmare fuel!
So, if you’re looking for a frightening flick to spend time with this Halloween, why not check out "The Babadook"? There’s a lot here I’ve not gone into (I could praise the writing in the film for days, to say nothing of sound design or performance), but if you like scary movies, there’s nothing better. "The Babadook" is on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a bowl of worms to take to the basement to feed the nightmare creature living there.