MOVIE REVIEW | The Babadook (2014)


“You can bring me the boy. You can bring me the boy. You can bring me the boy.”

Horror isn’t a genre of movie that I seek out all that much. Every now and again there’ll be a classic, or in the case horror, more of a cult classic, that I feel like I should see as movie nerd homework. But new horror is something that’s just not on my radar. In the last few months however, I haven’t been able to get away from The Babadook. Every pop culture website I visit, every movie related podcast I listen to, they all seem to be pushing The Babadook barrow over the last few months.

Out of nowhere, it was everywhere. Except, in Australia. I haven’t heard or read any Australian praise for this movie. Which is weird, since it’s Australian made. Once I found that out, it was the thing that finally pushed me over the edge and made me decide I needed to see The Babadook.

Widow and single mother Amelia (Essie Davis) is trying her best to raise her son, Noah Wiseman as Samuel, but he’s not helping. At first, he just seems annoyingly precocious, waking Amelia in the middle of the night with stories of monsters, and building fun little weapons to fight those monsters with. But his stories and reactions get more and more intense until he seems genuinely troubled.

One night, Samuel finds a popup book and asks Ameila to read it to him.   Called The Babadook, it’s surprisingly dark and disturbing. Soon, Samuel claims to start seeing the book’s titular character and his behavior is promoted from ‘nut bar’ to ‘bat shit’. As he alienates more and more people, Amelia struggles to keep her own sanity as she watches her son’s mind also seemingly deteriorate.

The Babadook has been praised as one of the scariest and creepiest horror movies in a long time. I’ll give it creepy, but I never really found it scary. As someone who doesn’t watch much horror, shouldn’t I be easier to scare? But the creep factor is running at maximum effect. Essie Davis gets some pretty full on, crazy ass shit to do, and she embraces it to full effect. And while Noah Wiseman might not be the greatest child actor I’ve ever seen, his darker moments are truly disturbing, coming from this fresh faced little kid.

Apparently made for around $30,000, the look of The Babadook is high level stuff and never looks low budget. Writer and Director Jennifer Kent knows what she’s doing, and gets the most out of every cent of her tiny budget. She shoots for maximum effect, and knows how to hold back, so when a big moment, or fright does come, it jumps out that much more.

The Babadook hasn’t made me a sudden devotee of horror, but it has made me realise how much can be done with a small budget when given to the right director. There are no upcoming movies listed on Kent’s IMDB, but I’m sure she won’t have much trouble getting her next thing made after the great critical reaction at The Babadook. Whatever that is, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

The Babadook
Directed By – Jennifer Kent
Written By – Jennifer Kent

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