& How to Watch Them:
The Babadook (2014): She’s a single mom. And a widow. And her kid is no piece of cake. As if all that weren’t enough, a mysterious children’s book appears in her house and starts to haunt her and her family. Laura and I recommended this movie to a waiter once and the next time Laura went to that restaurant he chased her down to tell her how much he loved it. So ask yourself, if the director of The Exorcist and a random waiter’s raves aren’t enough to get you to clicky clicky on a movie available on Netflix, what is?
Dear Jennifer Kent,
Jennifer, my Australian wildflower, you may be the first director to have given grown men the true postpartum experience when they peed themselves watching The Babadook. Your first(!) film is a marvel of production design, performance, and flawless horror cinematography, sure, but it comes with the added layer of some real dark women-only shit that’s been living in the shadows for too long. Nothing is more true to both grief and postpartum feelings (both of which I’ve experienced hard and simultaneously) than that they are monsters who take your sleep, dull your judgment, and make you ignore your beloved dog. Honestly, I wasn’t really okay with what happened to the dog but I forgive you. But only because of how boldly you broke one of cinema’s most longstanding rules, the old chestnut decreeing that mothers-on-film may never express a full range of emotions towards their children…unless they are the villain. You gave us a heroine who is sometimes embarrassed by, tired of, and furious with her kid but who will also summon all the forces of love and hell to protect him. It’s radical in its realness and so scary that the director of The Exorcist, William Friedkin, called it the most terrifying film he’s ever seen. Jennifer, I like my directors with a little darkness and a lot of feelings and so I like you very much. I mean I would never let you near my dog but maybe we go out for drinks sometime instead. Let me know.