The Babadook 2014
1h 33min | Drama, Horror | 22 May 2014 (Australia)
Amelia, who lost her husband in a car crash on the way to give birth to Samuel, their only child, struggles to cope with her fate as a single mom. Samuel’s constant fear of monsters and violent reaction to overcome the fear doesn’t help her cause either, which makes her friends become distant. When things can not get any worse, they read a strange book in their house about the ‘Babadook’ monster that hides in the dark areas of their house. Even Amelia seems to feel the effect of Babadook and desperately tries in vain to destroy the book. The nightmarish experiences the two encounter form the rest of the story.
You’ve heard of feel-good films, well this is not one. It’s creepy and disturbing pretty well all the way, a good old horror fantasy with a nod to the psychological canniness of Nightmare on Elm Street but much more economical in terms of special effects, casting and I would imagine budget. It nevertheless maintains tension and atmosphere along with some high-flying dramatic sequences from the actors which bear comparison with The Exorcist. The plot also connects nicely with the psychological and existential conflicts facing a single mother whose son’s birth coincided with the tragic death of her husband, and the whole nasty Babadook phenomenon, and its unresolved outcome, can certainly be read as an allegory of this traumatic event. Maybe it’s over-reading to say the film also contains a Nietszchian lesson about the importance of embracing every aspect of one’s life and history, no matter how horrific – but it works for me. The acting is amazingly good from the two leads, although the supporting characters are a bit stereotyped, a directing decision presumably. Sets and locations are charged with a bleak gloom, and the colour accordingly verges on monochrome. Love the specially made children’s book, and Mr Babadook’s physical character, as well as the wonderfully curated vintage movie footage appearing throughout on the TV screen. And a special word for the very fine intricately crafted sound design.
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall