22 Family Movies Not To Watch With Your Family On Thanksgiving

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Courtesy of Entertainment One and IFC Films.

The Babadook

This is one of those rare, smartly crafted horror movies that clearly has a deeper, more profound meaning than what’s at face value, but doesn’t force you to be aware of it the entire time. AND it’s so good that you don’t even want to be bothered to look deeper, because what’s happening in front of you is just as interesting. On the surface, we’re dealing with a mother and son (Amelia and Sam) who are haunted by a terrifying children’s book character named The Babadook. In his story, he promises “if it’s in a word or in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook,” and this guy doesn’t go back on his word! Once aware of the Babadook and his tale, Amelia and Sam can’t shake his presence, and begin to be subjected to his spookiness at every turn. When they rip up the book, it returns, promising in its sudden additional pages to come back even stronger as they try to deny it. You see where this is going.

The more interesting aspect of this film, though, is its secondary plot (which, of course, is the real-world equivalent of and motivation for the primary plot): Sam’s father passed away in a car accident on the day of his birth. As I said earlier, it isn’t immediately clear nor overtly glowing how profound a story device it is that The Babadook is merely grief personified…until the movie is through. And by then, you can appreciate, in retrospect, that the creature and the emotion have actually functioned as one from beginning to end.

Especially avoid if: You don’t like horror movies, if you’re easily creeped out by things that go bump in the night, and perhaps most importantly, if you’re newly grieving a loss. This feels like a movie that can, intellectually and eventually help a grieving person cope, but if you’re experiencing a fresh loss, you don’t need symbolism and metaphor to tell you what’s what.