The Babadook (2014)
Directed by Jennifer Kent
Running time: 94 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
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.
Last year I was pretty positive in my review of The Conjuring mostly, I think, because I was SO desperate for a good horror movie to ever actually be made again and that one was about the closest we’ve had to a decent American horror movie in years. It wasn’t perfect but at least it was almost a return to the good ‘ol days of horror movies that didn’t rely solely on cheap jump scares and/or excessive gore. Well, The Babadook is more the sort of horror movie I’ve desperately waited years for. It’s an Australian film so it’s still “foreign” which means that, once again, only foreign countries seem capable of making decent horror films these days. Time to catch up, America! You can do better than Paranormal Activity 12 & inferior remakes of foreign horror films.
I know The Babadook won’t appeal to the more casual cinemagoer but I highly recommend it to those looking for a good old-fashioned psychological horror. The acting in this is FANTASTIC. Essie Davis is especially great as the mother and you can really feel her pure exhaustion in being a single mother dealing with a six-year-old boy who seems to have some deep psychological issues and is starting to show signs of violent behavior. Noah Wiseman as the boy is also very good, especially considering that it appears this is the only thing he’s really been in. He has a great look and can be terrifying one second and so adorably sweet the next. These two really are brilliant and help to make this such a good film.
As for the story itself, it’s fairly straightforward stuff and not necessarily something we’ve never ever seen before. However, it’s how a story is presented that can make or break a horror movie. As I mentioned above, this isn’t one of those movies that relies on cheap jump scares and there’s also no gore (a bit of violence and blood, as to be expected, but nothing over the top). Some of the things that happen are pretty disturbing, especially as such a young child is involved. There’s nothing “silly” here – I saw this in a fairly full cinema and there were none of the usual laughs you hear when you watch things like Insidious and something that’s meant to be scary happens but it just ends up looking ridiculous. The slowly building tension is quite intense and the underlying theme is genuinely terrifying. I’m being quite vague as I don’t want to spoil this in any way for those who like the sound of this one. This is psychological terror. It HAS been done before but this film does it all in a very effective way.
I can’t end this without making mention of the BOOK in this movie. If you’ve read anything about the movie or watched the trailer (which I’m going to include at the end of this review as the film still isn’t that widely known), you’ll know that the Mister Babadook character comes from a children’s book the mother reads to the son. This book is bloody horrifying! I think there may be an actual book made of it?? I’m not sure but, if there is, it will NOT be on my Christmas list. My only complaint when it comes to this film is that I wish we’d seen even more of the book. Or… Maybe not…
THIS is a good psychological horror film. It’s disturbing and terrifying and makes you think instead of jump. I wouldn’t say it’s the scariest horror movie I’ve seen but it’s certainly one that will stay there in the back of your mind and you’ll think about it every now & then as you’re drifting off to sleep and worrying about the things in life that scare you. I do think this is one that older viewers will probably appreciate more than the young, especially those who are parents as it will play on their fears more than anyone else’s. And, once again, I have to say that the two main actors are magnificent – it was wonderful seeing such quality acting in a “horror” movie.
My Rating: 8/10
Official UK trailer:
About that book – Apparently they WILL be releasing it. I’ve just received the below tweets from The Babadook. Nooooooo!!!!!!