I’ve been hearing about The Babadook for quite a while with critics calling it the horror film of the year and that it has the potential to become a classic horror movie. But will this Australian horror make me afraid of the Babadook?
Amelia’s (Essie Davis) husband Oskar died on the day she gave birth to her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Seven years later she is still struggling with her grief and dealing with her son’s behavioural problems and overactive imagination. After Samuel reads a children book that suddenly appears in his room called The Babadook he becomes convinced that the Babadook is real and him and his mother are in danger.
Written and directed by Jennifer Kent in her debut movie, The Babadook is ideal for anyone who prefers their horror movies to be more psychological and character driven rather than relying on big set pieces and jump scares. There is an ominous sense of foreboding as we watch Amelia struggling to hold on to normality while her son believes further and further in the supernatural. The film can play out on two levels, that there really is a Babadook looking to harm this fractured family or it’s all just the inner turmoil of a lonely and stressed mother and her overactive disruptive child coming to the fore. Either way the film builds to a satisfying creepy conclusion.
Unusually for a horror film this movie features two fantastic lead performances from Davis and Wiseman. They are a believable mother/son duo and their relationship is the emotional centre movie. You want them to overcome their problems but you’re unsure as to whether this can happen. As the troubled Samuel, Noah Wiseman is particularly impressive, at turns creepy and cute and more than matching Essie Davis’ accomplished performance.
Concentrating more on atmosphere and unsettling performances worked great for me. But I did overhear a couple of people after the movie who were not as impressed as I was. I imagine they may have been expecting a more traditional horror movie complete with jump scares and an overload of gory deaths. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, but The Babadook is not that kind of horror. Perhaps a psychological thriller with hints of horror is a more appropriate way of describing it.
It may not be quite the classic people are describing it but it’s definitely the best horror film of the year so far, and the Babadook itself is creepy as hell, both in the book and in the flesh.
Rating 4/5 – scary, nerve-wracking and featuring two excellent performances makes this Aussie horror worth a watch