The boogeyman, a mother who's going off the rails or a bit of both? The Babadook (2014) tells the story of a widow and single mom, Amelia (Essie Davis), her son, six-year-old Samuel (Noah Wiseman), and a sinister character from a children's book.
Alone and still grieving her husband, Oskar (Benjamin Winspear), who died in a car crash the same day Samuel was born, Amelia is forced to deal with Samuel's disturbing dreams that keep them both up at night. As Samuel becomes more and more convinced there's a monster hiding in their home, Amelia begins to question if Samuel is right or if she's slowly losing her mind. The result is a movie that will leave you scratching your head after the credits roll. Here is a ranking of the 10 scariest scenes from The Babadook.
10 Reading Mr. Babadook
Just call it Goodnight Moon from hell. Mister Babakook shows up mysteriously on Samuel's shelf, and the book's namesake is a nasty creature who wears a top hat and has long bony fingers and sharp teeth. The grim tale warns not to let him in or suffer the consequences. It's Beetlejuice meets the Bloody Mary on paper.
The charcoal drawings paint the portrait of a vicious character, and it's less than ideal reading material in a household where the child is already morbidly fascinated with things that go bump in the night. The real questions are who wrote this book, where did it come from, and how come the little boy in the story is so much like Samuel?
9 Amelia Receives A Phone Call
Countless horror movies rely on the dread instilled by a creepy phone call. Sometimes there's just breathing on the other end or silence, or in the case of Babadook, a gravelly voice identifying itself as the thing that's taken up permanent residence is Samuel's mind. This either means Samuel's monster is very real, or Amelia is hallucinating, and both possibilities are equally frightening.
8 Babadook Appears
It starts with a scraping noise, then a rustling. Amelia can't be sure if something's hiding in the dark corners of her room. The door creaks open, and she hides under the cover like a scared child as the ominous Babadook makes his presence known. When she peeks her head out, the creature is over her bed. She gasps, but it appears he's found his way in.
7 Amelia Becomes Enraged
Amelia sees cockroaches, she sits in the bathtub fully clothed and functions in a haze. Suddenly, Samuel is assuming the role of the concerned caretaker. Whatever annoyance Samuel caused Amelia in the past, she no longer exercises any patience. Short bits of verbal abuse evolve into a frightening fit of rage when she discovers Samuel calling the neighbor for help. She cuts them off from the outside world. The only thing more unsettling than Amelia's despondency earlier in the film is this angry, unpredictable replacement.
6 Samuel Fights Babadook
The final scenes of The Babadook are disappointing in comparison to Amelia's mind creating its own chamber of horrors. How the waifish Samuel manages to bind his mother up Fifty Shades style is a bit of a head-scratcher, but he's proven to be a bit of a prodigy, building homemade crossbows.
As Samuel desperately tries to save his mother, what follows is a pretty straightforward monster movie -- garden variety thrills and chills. Babadook isn't just a shared figment of their imagination, but a beast that feeds on negative emotions like fear and grief. Amelia is an easy target thanks to depression, exhaustion and PTSD, and Samuel's behavior that of a young boy who is navigating through life with no father.
5 The Book Shows Up On Amelia's Doorstep
After destroying the original copy of Mister Babadook, another finds its way to Amelia's doorstep. But even though it's taped together, this is a revised edition. Amelia is featured heavily behaving homicidally, killing her dog, her child and herself. Is this her secret desire? To end all of the suffering, or is there something or someone pushing her over the edge?
Whatever the source of the tome, the book foreshadows a bleak end for Amelia and Samuel. The entire aesthetic of Mister Babadook screams children's book from the emphasis on illustration over text, the rhyming and featuring one character with a singular purpose. But the content is twisted and chilling. It's death disguised as something benign, luring the reader in like the witch's house beckons to Hansel and Gretel.
4 Amelia Confronts The Monster
The book makes the consequences pretty clear: there's no getting rid of Babadook. So while he no longer seeks refuge inside of Amelia, he isn't going quietly.
The takeaway from this final nail-biting showdown is Amelia defeats both Babadook and her inner demons. Her love for Samuel finally gives her strength instead of sapping it from her. But this boogeyman won't be completely vanquished, and this means Amelia has only pushed aside the darkness, and Babadook is one meltdown away, leaving this story eerily unfinished.
3 Amelia's Bloody Hallucination
As Amelia's behavior becomes more vicious, there is a brief moment where she seems to regain her maternal instinct. She turns her attention from the television towards Samuel whose throat has been slit. There's a flash of shock and grief before Samuel wakes her.
Amelia's standing over her son with a butcher knife in her hand. The gruesome content of the reassembled book is beginning to manifest into reality. Amelia is either suffering from mental illness or some type of possession, but she's also turning into the monster Samuel's been waiting to fight.
2 Babadook Returns
Whatever part of Amelia that stumbles into periods of lucidity comes under attack from either her mind or this insidious boogeyman. Amelia finds herself trapped as the Babadook makes his way down the chimney and into her bedroom. She's pulled in two directions, telling herself it isn't real over and over until something snaps.
Horror fans can accept Amelia is being controlled by Babadook because there has to be a way to get it out. Her behavior is beyond her control and therefore forgivable. If this is a mother in the middle of a complete psychotic break while alone with her fragile son, it's far more unsettling.
1 Amelia Terrorizes Samuel
After killing the family dog, Amelia goes after Samuel. She's more calculating, trying to lure him out. Her voice doesn't sound like her own, and she no longer appears to have control over her own body. She says the most horrible things to him. Things no mother should ever say, and it's difficult not to wonder if these are Amelia's actual thoughts. They've been tucked into the darkest parts of her mind and accessed by the Babadook.
The whole scene is so terrifying because she's his mother, and she knows what scares him. Amelia's transformed from a woman desperate to extinguish her son's fears to the one feeding them.