The Babadook versus It Follows

The Babadook versus It Follows Challenge

follows3A challenge has been made to decide on the champion of all independent horror movies, and these two movies are the contenders.  They were both celebrated to critical acclaim, but are also cryptic in some ways and enigmas in their own genre.  They use allegory and complex metaphors for larger, social issues, but which one does this the best?

The Monster – The Babadook is a dark and shadowy monster, who is a representation of grief, sorrow, and pain.  There are ways of moving past these issues, but The Babadook will never go away.  It is always there, waiting.  The monster itself has a good design, but there was only one scene I was truly scared of it, when it was crawling on the ceiling, threatening to attack.


The Monster = “IT” is a monster, but it is also a representation of social anxiety and relationship uncertainty in teens.  It lurks in the background of teen relationships, threatening to prey on a lack of self-confidence.  It is always there, waiting.  Every time it appeared, I was scared of what might happen, because it was an unknown.


Metaphors and Allegories – The Babadook is born out of grief, and it feeds on depression.  The mother plays this out first hand, as she is unable to move past the death of her husband.  She is unable to form relationships with others because of her issues, and she strikes out physically.  She is The Babadook in some ways, and this movie develops its allegories instead of just presenting them for the sake of entertainment.


Metaphors and Allegories – “IT” stalks and kills those who casually have sex, which is about the most obvious metaphor ever.  The movie also deals with teen relationships, AIDS, teen sex, and absent parents.  It hints at these issues and has the characters experience them through coping with an unusual curse, but there’s not as much development as in The Babadook.




Mood = The movie has a real sense of dread and fear, but almost turns you against the characters in some parts.  The movie slinks along at an even pace, until the tension shoots up a thousand times and people literally start screaming.  It is a modern horror movie, avoiding clichés and common tropes.  Holy cow, it is tense and foreboding. 




Mood = It Follows has an awesome retro vibe, but there is a real sense of something dangerous coming in this movie.  It is not as dark as The Babadook, which makes the movie more entertaining, instead of being too heavy.  It uses old tropes in familiar ways, but adds modern twists.  I honestly liked the mood in It Follows better than The Babadook, but the critic in me respects what The Babadook accomplished more.  Such a close call, let’s call it a tie on this one.


Characters = The mother and the kid are the only main characters really developed in this movie.  They act out and deal with their problems together, but their family unit is not healthy, experiencing abuse and pain quite often.  The mother is even unlikable in some parts, and sometimes I felt the same about the kid, though the movie tries to make up for that.


Characters = The core set of teens are good characters, especially Jay.  Some others are not, though might be two-dimensional on purpose, to be the impetus for Jay’s anxiety.  However, I always wanted to see what would happen to the characters, while The Babadook left me cold.WINNER
Is it scary?  To me, The Babadook is scary.  It plays on your fear of the dark and uses complex elements to build tension around what might happen next.  It has a sense of dread like The Exorcist (1973), but has the same personal nature like The Ring (2002), driving you to the edge of your seat in fear for the characters.WINNER Is it scary?  To me, It Follows is scary.  It operates like a monster stalk movie, but has lots of other things going on.  It is up close and personal with the characters, letting us in on how they feel.  We care about the characters, as they band together to solve this mystery like the Scooby Doo gang.  It has tension, but there’s probably more in The Babadook. 


The final score:

The Monster = WINNER, It Follows

Metaphors and Allegories = WINNER, The Babadook

Mood = TIE

Characters = WINNER, It Follows

Is it scary?  WINNER, The Babadook