The Babadook Review
Director: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman
Halloween season continues and if you don’t watch this horror film during this spookiest of holidays, you are seriously missing out!
“The Babadook … dook… dook”. That noise will stay in your head long after the film has finished. Jennifer Kent’s horror movie is what I have been longing for in modern horror for years.
Yes, there have been some films that have come along which have made me jump, and made me feel that cold, clammy hand on the back of my neck [seriously, did Kent employ someone to do that during this film, it kept on happening], yet no film has stayed with me for as long as The Babadook did. It is truly a masterpiece of modern horror and one to be cherished.
It follows the tale of a single mother, Amelia (Essie Davis) and her monster-obsessed child Samuel (Noah Wiseman). This obsession worsens when Samuel gets to choose his bedtime story, which just so happens to be called “Mister Babadook”. Amelia quickly realises that this horrific book was never meant for children to read, nor adults for that matter. But it’s too late: after that night, the family are tormented by the insidious Babadook.
The monster, a.k.a The Babadook, itself brings to mind Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, yet it also looks like a creature from a Georges Méliès film, but nevertheless a quintessentially German fairy tale-esque creation (much like Struwwelpeter): utterly chilling, and will haunt you long after the film has finished.
“You can’t get rid of the Babadook.”
The central performances are staggeringly impressive. Wiseman is superb as the tortured child, but it’s Davis who steals the show. She is wonderful as the mother who is slowly manipulated by this horrific creature. Her performance brings to mind Pamela Voorhees From Friday the 13th.
Jennifer Kent has succeeded in making a truly chilling, skin-crawling film; she clearly knows her horror lore. Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and The Exorcist are all obvious inspirations, yet it’s her nods and winks to early horror films, such as Nosferatu and Méliès’ Le Manoir du Diable which are particularly interesting. She is someone who loves the craft, and who knows her cinematic history, and in many ways this film harks back to the very beginnings of cinema, which is definitely a good thing. One can’t progress without looking at what went on before. Kent knows this and has delivered a truly progressive and game changing horror flick.
The Badabook should be applauded for its intelligence, but, more importantly, its genuine scares. After all the disappointments that were The Purge 2 and Annabelle, it’s a relief to know that the horror genre still hasn’t lost its vitality in 2014.