Jill and I do not do things like most couples. For example, we inexplicably chose to unschool. We also haven’t had one night without kids in 10 years. It seems like almost every other couple we know has gone on month-long cruises without their brood. In childless, sunshiny freedom they eat, drink, and inevitably add to their pack. They come back sun-kissed and exhausted. They hug their kids in the five minutes before they drop them off at school. They get back to routine completely refreshed.
We opted to balance out the universe by never even having one night alone together—which explains why we’re always so relaxed. And you’re welcome. Where can we pick up our medals?
Before the dollars start pouring into my PayPal account (happy to provide that info to any generous benefactors out there) to help us pay for a sitter and/or antidepressants and/or new identities, you should know that we recently seized an opportunity to get away. So don’t feel too sorry for us. My mom offered to let all three of our kids spend the night at her house and we dropped them off before she sobered up and realized what she agreed to.
“WHAT the FU-”
We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. The kids were fucking gone! The house was ours. We could say “Fuck” right out loud. The freedom was stressful. After wasting precious minutes debating, we decided to get take-out from a Middle Eastern restaurant close by, fire up the hookah with some blue mist tobacco, and completely destroy our evening by watching The Babadook.
The Babadook is an Australian horror movie set in an insane land called Australia where venom was invented. It’s about a monster that comes out of a children’s book to terrorize a single mother and her 7 year-old son. Here’s the trailer.
I had been asking Jill to see it after one of my friends told me it was one of the creepiest movies he had ever seen. And Rotten Tomatoes gives it a goddamned 97% freshness rating. That’s insanely high for a horror flick.
Even with the accolades, and my fervent wish to see a scary movie with an actual bona fide plot, I was hesitant to make horror part of our decompression session.
I’ve never been more righter in my life.
We watched it. Holy shit we watched it.
With the delicious shish taouk, a fading memory on my taste buds.
The sunlight gone.
The world gray.
The house still.
It was a brilliant movie. Brilliantly written, acted, and filmed. I actually recommended it in an earlier post. BUT THE BLEAK. So much bleak.
I LOVED Requiem for a Dream. We saw the NC-17 version when it hit theaters in a limited release. And when it was over, I asked my friends: “Okay, who brought the gun? And did you bring a bullet for me?” I asked that with a smile because the ending was so satisfyingly dark.
The Road is perhaps the best book I’ve ever read. Actually, no “perhaps” about it. It’s overpowering. Nothing else can compare. And it is so so so so so so bleak. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say more. But goddamn.
The point is: bleak is a flavor I enjoy. But The Babadook was next level shit. Mostly because it was incredibly familiar.
Requiem for a Dream is about addictions—something I’v never had to deal with. The Road is set in post-apocalyptic America which is still a few months away. The Babadook, however, was crafted with stuff from my lowest moments. It reached into my brain and tapped into the poison thoughts. It took me to the terminal end of my worst nightmares as a parent: where I become a threat to my kids.
The Babadook describes the tragic consequences of being forced to give care when you have nothing left to give. When you have to weigh your survival against the well-being of your children.
Which means that as we tried to unwind from the last ten years trapped in a constant state of parenthood and stress from a series of enormous life changes, The Babadook shoved every last miserable memory back at us.
For me, it brought back the days when I was a student and Jill was overwhelmed and we had a mortgage with no income and nights with no sleep. When Jill would break down in tears in the middle of the day and I would nap with a sleeping baby on my chest. When getting by was our most ambitious goal.
Watching The Babadook was like trying to take a breather and getting lungfuls of toxic gas. The worst possible thing to see to take your mind off of your worries as a parent.
At one point, the little boy softly pleads with his ever more distraught mother to feed him. He’s so hungry. She basically tells him to go make himself a GFY sandwich. He has no choice but to slink away. I offered to stop the movie after that. But we trudged on.
The movie never lets you off the hook. You worry and twitch until the very end. It’s not something that any parent on the edge should see. Really, it demands parental guidance for parents.
Or it needs one of those big pharma commercial disclaimers: Do not watch The Babadook if you are pregnant or ever plan on becoming pregnant. If you are the primary caretaker of children or if you operate heavy machinery around children. Or if you give a rat’s ass about your mental well being. Do not watch The Babadook if you’ve ever been depressed, moody, or sad at a gloomy day. If you’ve ever had a bad thought ever.
Do not watch The Babadook.
I understand that telling you not to watch something may be the perfect way to get you to see it. Just as telling someone to not click a link is the surest way to get someone to click. Once, there was a link called “meatspin” that I told a coworker not to click. And of course she clicked. Meatspin is extremely pornographic and somewhat homophobic and you should never watch it. Ever. Here’s the link.
Did you click it? I’ll know if you do. Well, not you in particular, but the number of times people click that link will show up on my WordPress dashboard. And I’ll also completely understand if you did.
Because NSFW = Hey Jeff Click This Link Right Fucking NOW!
Hopefully, you heed my warning about The Babadook. After the movie ended, I wanted to drive and pick up all my kids and hug them until my arms fell off. Instead, we fired up the hookah, put on Anchorman 2, and tried to forget the horror.
Thank you, Will Ferrel.