This is what terror is all about. Picture this: a single mother is struggling after the death of her husband with a little boy who won’t stop acting out. Then the Babadook comes—a children’s book from the nightmares of our collective consciousness. A shadowy figure who lurks in closets, under beds, and plagues the imagination of the little boy. But of course, not all is as it seems when the sleep deprived mother starts to see signs of the Babadook too…
I have wanted to write about The Babadook for a while now, but I only managed to see it this week! The Babadook came out in the UK last week and comes out officially in the US later this month. All year the film has been appearing at festivals, building up interest, and gaining critical acclaim. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I get what people have been talking about. It is worth all the fuss.
This film is a triple threat in the horror world: good acting, good plot, good frights. To be honest, it is exceedingly difficult to find horror films that tick all three boxes. It’s an Australian film directed by Jennifer Kent. This director has come out guns blazing with her feature directing and writing debut, and I’m excited to see what her next move will be. I love it when women take the helm in the horror genre (see earlier article on Lyle), because in the past there’s been a lot of movies—and in this genre in particular—that are rather on the demeaning side to us ladies. Kent is proving that when women battle their way to the forefront of the genre, they’re usually doing something interesting, scary yet artful, and full of soul and plot.
The performance from Essie Davis, the mother, contributes greatly as to why I liked this film. She portrayed the exhaustion, confusion, and strain brilliantly, and I felt the meltdown approaching. This added another layer of fear to the film, a very real fear of despair and isolation for the widowed mother, on top of the supernatural fear cast by the Babadook itself.
And the kid. Well, kids are often good at creepy and little Noah Wiseman is no exception. But as well as being a disturbing little tyke, he has also mastered tenderness for his onscreen mother. Not bad for a seven year old!
So if you get chance to catch this film in the cinema, I’d strongly advise it for the dark and sinister atmosphere. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future projects by Kent and will keep you informed. If you want to check out her short film that inspired the feature length The Babadook, you can do so here.