Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Babadook and Noah: Hype and Myth

Sometimes, I'm confused by how certain movies get hype. Not so much the big blockbusters, that's usually driven by marketing and the masses just play along. But once in a while a small movie comes along and generates buzz from critics, podcasters, the internet at large and whatever other film geek outlets so it becomes almost more powerful than the overblown Hollywood marketing Michael Bay gets. Sometimes it's merited. But too often, I think what happens is that everyone just continues the hyped up game of buzz telephone only because it's expected that if you're cool, if you know anything about film, you'd better like this movie and say so. It's the typical hipster bullshit that I find more obnoxious than the masses liking whatever bloated summer blockbuster they're told to. At least in that case, there's no pseudo-intellectual, holier than though nonsense behind it. 

babadook, dook, dook

Then again, it's entirely possible that the other reason mediocre indy films get this kind of hype is because they are still miles ahead of what the big studios churn out and the hipsters are just happy to get something. The other day, I watched The Babadook, which is a horror film that received this kind of hype a while back. It has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, if you care about that sort of thing, which I don't, but it illustrates my point. The movie is not bad. And it has a pretty great subtext about grief and accepting the darkness in our lives, rather than letting it hide in our closets. That aspect I thought was great. As a horror movie, it had it's moments, but overall, I think it was just OK. Worth watching, sure. Different? Maybe. Ground breaking? Amazing? Take it down it notch. 


I also watched Darren Aronofsky's Noah, just a while ago, and overall, I found it kind of boring. I appreciate the way he approached this myth and tried to make it relevant by grounding it to environmental themes, but I think ultimately, he may have stuck too close to the premise. I had heard about the rock creatures and I have to say, they were fine. I didn't have any problem with that part of it. I was turned off by the same things that turn me off to religion in general. At one point, the king of the descendants of Cain tells Noah's son "A man isn't ruled by the heavens, a man is ruled by his will," and I guess this is supposed to be some kind of heretical, evil thing in the context of the movie, but he's absolutely right. Ultimately, the movie seems to agree with this as Noah appears to defy the creator's wishes in the end by not killing his granddaughters, but I find it soft peddles that dynamic by ending on a note where the creator apparently intended to give Noah the choice. I don't know, it could be that even though this is an attempt at presenting a biblical story as a modern fantasy type myth, it just doesn't ring true enough to achieve real myth status. On that level, I think The Babadook did succeed.

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