I turn 35 this month. To repay my mother for bringing me into this world I’m sending a haunted book to her house.
Specifically, I am sending a replica of “Mister Babadook” to Mom’s doorstep. You might remember the Babadook from the movie, “The Babadook?” A mother and her difficult son face horrifying, supernatural trials after she finds a menacing, possibly cursed pop-up book?
I didn’t mean for this to be quite so on-the-nose. Each one of these books is hand-made, an official replica of the prop in the movie. I had to order it several months in advance to account for the time it takes to make a Babadook book. I had no idea if I would still have the same apartment – I live out in the sticks by my landlady, who has a dog named Pinsky-Nemechek and a car named “PROTEIN.”
I needed a permanent address. My mother has lived in the same place since the nineties. She has never owned a car named after a macronutrient. She’s built for herself an island of stability. When you think about it, there was no other choice I could possibly have made than to send her a pop-up book full of charcoal art that looks like mid-psychosis Louis Wain trying to draw Lon Chaney.
A quick note on “The Babadook”: it is the scariest film I’ve seen in years. I had to watch it in half-hour gulps. I needed breaks to come up for air from the thick blanket of dread the movie projects. If you’re a parent, or a child of a parent who has ever been single, this film will heck you up good.
The director, Jennifer Kent, made the movie on a shoestring budget. She used a Kickstarter campaign to push it over the edge. It’s scrappy, and midway through you’ll hear the stock sound file of a screeching imp from Doom and it will pull you out of the spell. But it’s so good. And the pop-up book is so good. Read this article on the craft that went into making the pop-up book that catalyzes a truly stand-out horror movie.
Some day soon — I don’t know when — Mom is going to open her door and “Mister Babadook” will be waiting for her inside a brown box. Because I am the worst conceivable son.
Mom? Don’t open that box. I didn’t mean for this book to be a shot across your bow. I don’t want a tenebrous horror to harrow you in the dark of the night. And yet!
A long time ago Mom found out I was scared of the movie “Hook” as a child. I’ve never watched the whole thing. I saw Captain Hook lock a man in a chest full of scorpions and I thought it was the second most terrifying thing I’ve witnessed in a film. Mom thought this was hilarious. For months afterward, she would make little aluminum foil hooks and hide them in my school lunches. Ha ha!
Thank God I never told her the scariest, most awful thing I ever saw in a film as a child, Judge Doom killing the cartoon shoe in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Because one, it’s HORRIBLE and two, I for sure was not old enough to be watching a movie with Jessica Rabbit in it.
Would I have received lunches packed with old, busted lawn-mowing shoes, with pleading, desperate googly-eyes drawn onto them, signaling perfect awareness of their slow and inescapable death? Maybe. Maybe it’s OK my mom will soon receive this package, this replica of a book that drives a wedge between a mother and a difficult, inscrutable, horrible child.
I feel justified in leaving a Boglin for Mom to find leering in the kitchen at night. However, I’m willing to admit I went overboard with the fake rubber snake I put in the refrigerator once.
I didn’t mean to revive this shadow war with my mother with a haunted book. No harm, no foul, right, Mom? There’s certainly no need to crack open your stockpile of stories about the embarrassing things I did as a child. Let us reason with one another. When you see the package, don’t open it. Just give me a call and I’ll come to dispose of the Babadook book.
I love you, Mom. Maybe next I’ll order the Lament Configuration from Hellraiser and send it to Dad. Fair’s fair.