The Babadook

"Excellent"

The Babadook Review


For her first feature, Australian actress-turned-filmmaker Jennifer Kent creates a startlingly effective horror movie by combining serious scariness with some darkly evocative emotion. Shot in a classical style that doesn't rely on special effects, this is a remarkable film that deploys a terrifying boogeyman while saying some resonant things about grief and mental illness.

The story picks up almost seven years after Amelia (Essie Davis) buried her husband Oskar (Benjamin Winspear in flashbacks) just as her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) was born. But Samuel is supremely high-maintenance, alienating his classmates, teachers and family members like his cousin Ruby (Chloe Horn), daughter of Amelia's sister Claire (Hayley McElhinney). Demanding and always talking about monsters, Samuel has made Amelia's life so stressful that she can't sleep, and in her frazzled state she begins to believe that the Babadook (Tim Purcell), a character from an outrageously creepy pop-up book, is truly invading their home. To calm down, she asks her doctor to prescribe sedatives for both of them. But things only get worse.

Made like an old-school horror movie, with things moving around the edges and going "Dook! Dook! Dook!" in the night, the film benefits from its in-camera effects because there's the sense that there's something genuinely on the set with the actors. There's even a shadow-filled basement where Amelia has stored Oskar's things. Kent shoots everything with a careful perspective that echoes Amelia's increasingly disoriented point of view, so all of Samuel's annoying whininess unnerves the audience as much as it does her. Davis and Wiseman are superb in the roles, expressing inner emotions as their fear merges with lingering grief as well as a growing frustration that no one understands what they are going through.

Yes, at its core this is a film about unresolved loss, people who have simply never allowed themselves to move ahead with their lives, trapped in a seriously dark and gloomy house. Both Samuel and Amelia long for sunnier days, and have a palpable yearning that they'll get through this nightmare and be able to reconnect with their friends and family, who have abandoned them because they're just too much work. And in their vulnerable states, this assault from a monster leaping out of the shadows is especially horrifying, because as things get scarier the film also digs deeper into the pitch-black corners of both the mother's and son's emotional lives. Which allows the actors to create fully formed characters who are heroic and flawed, frightened and frightening.

 

Rich Cline



The Babadook

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th November 2014

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $4.2M

Budget: $2M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Causeway Films, Smoking Gun Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Fresh: 113 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jennifer Kent

Producer: Kristina Ceyton, Kristian Moliere

Starring: as Amelia, Noah Wiseman as Samuel, as Robbie, Tim Purcell as The Babadook, as Claire, Cathy Adamek as Prue, Craig Behenna as Warren, Benjamin Winspear as Oskar, Chloe Hurn as Ruby

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