As usual, the Australian film industry has worn its thin skin off patting its own back in praise of a predictable, derivative mess. “The Babadook” (even the name is a yawn) has some (very) minor suspense, good acting from the major characters and awful acting from some minor characters. The script is amateurish and lazy. If this film were shorter, it might make a workmanlike student film.
Every poor horror film requires most or all of these elements:
- A cute, shaggy pet dog. Preferably white.
- An insect infestation.
- A concerned and mild-mannered neighbour or work colleague of the opposite sex.
- Ludicrously severe government officials.
- Contemptuous police.
- A large, unnaturally dark house; the topography of which is unclear. Curtains, a basement and lamp-lit corners are mandatory.
- A large-eyed, unsmiling child making unsettling appearances, arms straight at the sides.
- A struggling single mother fighting the cruel world in defence of her troubled darling.
- A comparison between said poor but decent single mother and pampered monied mothers.
- Something odd being disgorged by a major character.
- Snippets of scarey old black and white cartoons and films.
- Shots of a large tree.
- A vulnerable child being bullied to breaking point by another child while oblivious adults make pointed conversation nearby.
- Someone shoots backwards up the stairs.
- A character slams a door shut against something scarey, and shuffles backwards across the floor on their haunches (no-one really does that).
- An item left on the doorstep.
This film has every one of these, plus others which I cannot mention because they would serve as “spoilers” – as if you didn’t already know them all. The worst thing is, it’s not even unintentionally funny.
The TVC cat couldn’t keep his eyes open during The Babadook