The Babadook

December 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Posted in 2014 | 3 Comments
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“If it’s in a word, if it’s in a book, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” So says the children’s book that Amelia decides to read to her son one night. This beautifully drawn and very disturbing pop-up book sets the stage for what turns out to be a whip smart old-school horror film. Made in Australia by first time director, Jennifer Kent, the story follows Amelia and her 6 year old son, Samuel, as they deal with something (we’re not sure what) deeply weird happening in their home. The house is vaguely run-down and creepy enough as it is. Add a shadowy man-creature in a top hat after your child and, well, you can imagine. One of the real joys of this film is the way it eschews modern Hollywood horror tropes in favor of deepening layers of discomfort, anxiety, claustrophobia and uncertainty. You won’t jump like you might in an American movie but you will feel increasingly ill at ease; what exactly is happening here? Is it going where I think it is? Don’t be so sure. Kent cleverly defies expectations more than once, keeping the audience on edge by making it hard for us to predict the outcome. All of that said, though, what most elevates this film is the stunning acting by both of the two leads. This is essentially a two person film, with everyone else serving mostly to move the plot along. Essie Davis (known mostly for her role in “The Matrix” trilogy) is stunning as the heartbroken and bone-tired Amanda. Not only could she convincingly display a range of emotions but she was able to fully transform her face right in front of the audience to chilling effect. I believed her exhaustion, her fear, her rage. Likewise, 7 year old Noah Wiseman was astonishing as her disturbed son. In his first film, this kid reminded me of young Haley Joel Osment in his ability to display sheer terror. Add on top of that out-of-control tantrums and giddy, childish joy and you have an amazing performance. These two truly made this film a wonderful, creepy joy to watch.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Am I going to be able to sleep after I see it?

  2. It was very creepy. I heard someone in the audience complain about sleeping that night. You have been warned.

  3. […] The Babadook […]


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