Directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook is an Australian horror film about a single mother, Amelia, and her annoying son, Samuel. After Amelia reads a mysterious childrens book called “The Babadook” to her son, a physical formation of this monster appears to haunt her and her son. At first sight, it would be easy to confuse The Babadook with any other generic paranormal horror flick, but it’s significantly better than a lot of other horror films that have come out recently.
For one thing, The Babadook is legitimately scary. Rather than relying on jump scares and random acts of silence, The Babadook presents legitimate consequences to the events that are happening, which makes the film extremely frightening. The characters are created incredibly realistically, so you can relate with the characters and experience their pain, rather than just watch passively. Kent also creates a strong sense of tension and anxiety that makes you feel as if there is no time for the characters to rest.
Essie Davis turns in a fantastic performance as Amelia. Dealing with the loss of her husband and having to both work and take care of her son, the character is exhausted, and Davis communicates this stunningly. When pressure is increased for Amelia, there is a sense of desperation that Davis is able to encapsulate wonderfully. Noah Wiseman plays Samuel, the trouble-making son. Watching Samuel is incredibly unnerving, and Wiseman does his job of being awful magically.
With many horror films, the villain is generally the one that is getting the character study. However, with The Babadook, the spiritual entity is not the focus. It’s used as a way for the filmmakers to analyze the main characters, which is something that is very rarely done well in horror films. But in this movie it’s done in a way that adds extra layers to the film.
That said, at times it does become obvious that this is Kent’s first movie. There is the occasional sound error or weird cut that shows some of her insecurities behind the camera. However, The Babadook is a film to be proud of. I feel that Kent has a lot of potential, and I can’t wait to see more films that she creates. 8/10.