Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, “If it’s in a word, or it’s in a book, you can’t get rid of The Babadook.”
The Babadook revolves around struggling, single mom Amelia (Essie Davis- The Matrix Reloaded) and her troubled son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Amelia is constantly haunted by the fatal car accident that killed her husband Oskar (Benjamin Winspear), which was en route to the maternity ward to give birth to Samuel.
Six years later and Amelia is still processing this heavy loss while trying to make ends meet as a single mother to her hyper and unsettled boy. This traumatic experience has disrupted her relationship with her son and she struggles to manage him as he deals with his own demons; obsessed by the spectral monsters he sees lurking in every shadow. Samuel even fashions is own series of homemade weapons against any possible creepy advances.
After a large, mysterious ‘Mister Badadook’ book turns up in the house and is chosen by Samuel for story time, the bedtime read turns sinister. The storybook tells of The Babadook; a clawed and toothy shadow-man, who seems to be threatening Sam and Amelia from the book’s very pages. His dark and disturbing image only fuels Sam’s monster fears even more as the monster has now been given a name. Samuel’s behavior becomes further erratic as he is expelled from school, banned from other kids parties, and continues to wake up his mother every night with tales of “The Babadook”. His actions slowly driving Amelia to the edge.
At first glance, The Babadook may seem like a movie about a child being influenced by a ghost or the typical monster under the bed type story, but The Babadook surprisingly has a different aim than just scaring the audience. The book that tells the story of Mister Babadook which when read, is what conjures him. This outlines a lot, which if you haven’t guessed, I won’t spell out and spoil.
Essie Davis does a great job with the role of struggling mother. She looks like a sensitive, loving person at the end of her tether, whose emotions have been turned upside down from lack of sleep. Pale and wide-eyed Samuel played by Noah Wiseman convincingly combines being both slightly strange and frightened. The Babadook also features a brief appearance from Daniel Henshall (The Snowtown Murders) who plays a caring colleague to Amelia.
The Babadook makes a convincing argument for the anxieties that many go through, growing into something much more psychotic and potentially dangerous. The tension of the story’s core is intriguing, utilizing this structure of increasing fears and angst, and does so convincingly.
The Babadook is one of those movies that isn’t “in-your-face” scary. It’s subtle, suspenseful, and shrouded in mystery. I’d say give it a look, look, look.
WICKED RATING: 7/10 (7 / 10)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer(s): Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman
Studio/ Production Co: Causeway Films, Smoking Gun Productions
Sub-Genre: Drama, Thriller