The Babadook is an Australian film written and directed by Jennifer Kent and is also her directorial debut; not including a short she made in 2005 called ‘Monster’ which is more or less a similar story but which is only 10 minutes long. This film is a Causeway films production and is produced by Kristina Ceyton and Kristian Moliere. It stars Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tim Purcell, Barbara West and Hachi (as Bugsy the dog).
The story revolves around a single mother, Amelia (Davis), who is plagued by the death of her husband who died taking her to hospital to give birth to their son. To make matters worse she has to battle her son Samuel’s (Wiseman) fears of a monster that is lurking in the house. To help calm him she often reads him a bed-time story. This is only ever short-lived and most nights he ends up sharing her bed. However on one particular night Sam chooses a book to read, a book that his mother is unaware of called The Babadook. She begins to read it to him and he enjoys it but it soon turns sinister and the story becomes disturbing for both him and her.
This sets in motion an increased fear of their being a monster in the house and Sam becomes ever more disturbed and this isolates him at school and at home. At first Amelia puts it down to hyper-active sense of imagination but it soon escalates to a level that causes him to have a seizure. Throughout all this trouble Amelia becomes increasingly distraught and is soon in desperate need of sleep. However she soon begins to realize that there is a sinister presence hanging around. Sam’s behaviour continues to degrade but he soon finds himself at the mercy of his mother’s mental state as the presence continues to torment her and eventually takes control. At this point both mother and son, plagued by the Babadook (Purcell), begin to fight for their survival and their sanity; the battle of which culminates in a rather strange and unpredictable ending.
The story is a pretty basic one, a boy frightened by ideas of a monster in his room which eventually turn out to be real. It’s not the most original premise, that said it is quite well done. The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares for a change. The performances of Davis and Wiseman are both really quite good, their portrayals of two people who are troubled and their further downward spiral of fear and tension is well caught on screen. The son’s disturbed nature is well captured and his mothers changing behaviour definitely matches it. The atmosphere of the film is quite terrifying and there are many moments that are really quite creepy. You’re left constantly thinking when is the Babadook going to appear and I thought the progressive build-up towards it was set at a good pace. There are quite a few other characters in the film, and whilst the roles they play help to strengthen the ever-increasing disturbed nature and behaviour of the family, they are for the most part not that important and if they were removed the film would still achieve what it sets out to. The weirdest and perhaps weakest part of the film is the ending. It’s not something you’ll see coming and some people may feel a little let down or confused; but that depends on the person. The Babadook is definitely a film that could have you on the edge of your seat and is deserving of one of the reviews saying that it’s one of the best horror films to come out of Australia in a long time. For her first full length film debut Jennifer Kent has created quite an exceptional film and I would recommend it to anyone to watch at least once. I think it belongs in the same sort of ballpark as Insidious and Sinister and whilst not quite as good as those two it is probably one of the more creepy films to be released in the last 6 months. -The Eyez 187
IMDb has given it a rating of 7.1, whilst Rotten Tomatoes gave it a staggering 96%, I personally would rate it somewhere between the two at about an 8. This horror film combines subtlety and psychological depth with some very full-blooded shock tactics, it is eerie and unsettling and is a promising debut from an exciting new talent.