Plot – A single mother and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when an eerie children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” manifests in their home – The Babadook.
Director – Jennifer Kent
Starring – Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Genre – Drama | Horror | Mystery
Released – 2014
If you liked – Hereditary, The Invisible Man, Last Night in Soho
The Babadook isn’t the film for the Conjuring/Insidious horror crowd. If you’re looking for multiple jump scares, cliche situations and poorly written characters, you won’t find any here. Jennifer Kent’s debut movie taps into a more primal fear. The void of grief/loneliness that follows losing someone you love. This is a horror where quick sharp scares are avoided in favour of something more malignant, creeping up on the characters and leaving you feeling unsettled.
This is a far more intelligent story than most horror movies they treat us to these days, but, like I said, this film will not please everyone. In much the same way as The Witch and Midsommar, The Babadook tricks the viewer into believing they’re about to watch a mainstream horror movie, only for the plot to follow a darker psychological path that requires greater attention and repeat viewings to appreciate all the hard work Kent had put in with her writing and direction.
It’s only in the third act when the supernatural elements ramp up, does the story begin to falter, with the drama of the dialogue and the situations that the movie presents, threatening to become too melodramatic. But what keeps you watching and leaves you feeling so rattled is the performance of Essie Davis. Abandoned by society and left looking after a challenging child, the Machiavellian influence of the evil being slowly infected her mind, replacing the feeling of loss with anger and reluctant acceptance.
Alienating some and entertaining others, The Babadook in some ways, reminded me of Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse in that, while still a horror movie, it sets out to do something different by introducing psychological art-house and grind-house themes that will no doubt split the audience. However, if you have a genuine love of the genre, it’s well worth a watch.