Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
A storybook demon terrorises an ungovernable child and his mother (Essie Davis) in Jennifer Kent’s gripping and brilliantly idiosyncratic frightener. Conjuring all the dread and nocturnal scares from her haunted house scenario that any horror fan might require, writer-director Kent goes deeper. She etches the visceral terrors of her two protagonists with a psychological acuity and emotional resonance that make her film unmistakably and thrillingly the work of an artist with a vision.
“What starts off as a seemingly standard evil-child outing gradually transforms into something else entirely. By the end, the supremely grating and peculiar seven-year-old Samuel (newcomer Noah Wiseman, eerily reminiscent of The Shining’s Danny Lloyd) is the most sympathetic thing in the film. The Babadook is a bogeyman-like figure pictured in a super-creepy handmade children’s pop-up book that mysteriously appears and cannot be disposed of no matter how hard Samuel’s mother tries... The Babadook features a number of genuinely unsettling scenes, (embarrassing disclosure: I checked the closets and under the bed before I tried to sleep that night), but it also packs an emotional punch. That’s mostly due to Davis’ truly shape-shifting performance... ‘Baba dook dook dook!’ should take its place in the annals of horror history alongside ‘Candyman’ and ‘Bloody Mary’ as words too terrifying to repeat but too tempting not to.” — Laura Kern, Film Comment
“You may not believe in bogeymen, but you better believe The Babadook is the best Australian film in years.” — Simon Miraudo, Quickflix
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