Directed By: Jennifer Kent
Written By: Jennifer Kent
Time: 93 min
Starring: Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman
Plot: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
Comments: I was excited to see that Essie Davis had a new movie out as I have been loving her as Phryne Fisher in the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (watch on Netflix, if but for the amazing fashion. Stay for the fun murder mysteries). And then I saw the trailer for the Babadook. Now as you know I am a big fan of horror movies, but lately I have been bored with the offerings in the past couple of years. This trailer was creepy and I couldn’t wait to see it. Of course why would it ever come to Bozeman (thank goodness in San Francisco we will be able to see more limited release films). Thankfully Xbox One had it on their on demand video so Kat and I grabbed our blankets, popcorn, and turned off the lights.
The movie begins simply enough. Amelia (Essie Davis) is not sleeping or dealing with the stresses of being a single mother to a precocious seven year old (he enjoys making weapons for monster hunting) very well. It’s been seven years since her husband was killed in a car accident while driving them to the hospital to deliver Samuel, but Amelia is still grieving. She hates her job and Samuel is very obviously a difficult and potentially disturbed child who is heavy into the ‘Monster in a Closet’ phase of his childhood (hence the ingenious weapons he occasionally brings to school). He is prone to outbursts and is not helping with her sleep problems with his gnashing teeth and feet in her back.
One night, Samuel chooses his nightly book from his bookshelf, but it is a book that neither of them have read before. The ‘Babadook’ is a pop-up book with a shadow who comes into your home to scare you. Do not let him in for once you do there is no getting rid of the Babadook. Amelia realizes too late the creepy nature of the book and by this time Samuel is terrified. Amelia hides the book but it reappears and by this time Samuel is convinced that the Babadook exists. Does it? Has their fractured family invited the monster in? Or is it something far more sinister?
So yeah, whoa. I loved this film. It’s a great psychological horror film. Sure there is a monster, but is it a monster in the traditional sense? I spent half of the movie terrified of Samuel convinced that one day he was going to turn his monster hunting contraptions on his mother. I felt for Amelia and could completely understand if she one day snapped and drove them both over a cliff. When the Babadook shows up all I could think is ‘oh yea it gets worse’. That pop-up book is terrifying (which is why I want one immediately). Amelia starts to lose it. She snaps at her son, loses more and more sleep and when she finds broken glass in her soup, but not Samuels I think she, too, is beginning to wonder if Samuel isn’t the monster. Perhaps the Babadook is a monster of her own making though…she did dabble in writing for children’s books after all and perhaps the horrific scenes that keep appearing in the book are wishful thinking. Maybe Amelia is about to have a psychotic break. But then maybe, just maybe, the Babadook is real.
Both Essie Davis (far from the vibrant Phryne Fisher I usually see her as) and Noah Wiseman (great child actor) are amazing in this film. Essie Davis looks like she hasn’t a decent night’s rest in seven years and Noah Wiseman plays the raging child and terrified son brilliantly. The psychological horror is here in full force and there is so much more going on than a simple monster movie. Its complex and doesn’t rely on the cheap scares and thrills though there are many moments of terror.
I could pick this film apart for days and that is why psychological horror is the best. Where did the Babadook come from? What does it represent? Was it ever there? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the matter.
So yeah…Please let Jennifer Kent make more films especially horror films. For a debut…holy frakking frell. Seriously. It was one of the better horror films I have seen in years. Thank you Jennifer Kent. Thank you.
Rent/Cinema? Cinema. Rent. Buy. However you can. Just see it.