The Babadook (2014) | This frighteningly brilliant Australian Grimm fairytale will scare the life out of you!

The Babadook

When troubled six-year-old Samuel (Noah Wiseman) finds a pop-up book called The Babadook on his bookshelf, his widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) makes it his new bedtime story. But the book exerts a bad influence on Sam, who becomes convinced The Babadook is coming to get them. At first Amelia suspects Sam’s disruptive behaviour is in response to her resentment of him (she blames him for his father’s death), but then she starts seeing glimpses of the sinister storybook presence herself! Is it just a figment of her imagination brought on by her insomnia, or is there a very real monster in the closet?

The Babadook

Justifiably earning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, The Babadook is probably the best Aussie horror since 2005’s sleeper hit Wolf Creek. Making her feature debut here, writer/director Jennifer Kent has conjured up a contemporary suburban Grimm fairytale exploring grief, loneliness and guilt to reveal the monster that potentially lurks inside us all.

The Babadook (2014)

Taunt, tense and dripping in claustrophobic atmosphere, Kent’s walking nightmare certainly shares its psychological horror DNA with Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), which it has be compared to – but also Andrzej Żuławski’s 1981 horror hybrid Possession, as witnessed in the manifested malevolent entity (brought on by Amelia and Sam’s unresolved traumas).

The Babadook

But it’s Kent’s themes of parental guilt that really sets this film apart, while the spooky Gorey-esque stop-motion monster effects are chillingly effective. A nice touch are the clips from Mario Bava’s 1960s shocker Black Sabbath and the 1980s possession classic The Amityville Horror, which pop up while Amelia is TV channel hopping (they also inform Kent’s creepfest); while Aussie viewers will certainly chuckle over the scene in which Amelia lovingly devours a bar of Cherry Ripe (an iconic Australian chocolate confection).

The Babadook (2014)

Essie Davis gives a captivating performance as the increasingly unhinged Amelia, trapped in a maelstrom of grief and terror, while young Noah Wiseman brings real depth to the troubled Sam who, armed with his homemade weapons, goes from frightened to fearless as the film’s dark events take hold and both son and mum are propelled into the very heart of darkness.

This frightening brilliant horror certainly gets under your skin, and marks Kent as an emerging new talent that’s one to watch.

The Babadook premieres on Film4 today at 9pm





About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on November 21, 2016, in Horror, Must See, Must-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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