The Babadook (2014)

April 19, 2015

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman
Director: Jennifer Kent

Bottom Line: The Babadook is an extremely strong horror film from first time director Jennifer Kent. It’s a story about a mother and her young, troubled son dealing with grief several years after her husband died in a car accident driving her to the hospital to give birth. In the midst of the mother struggling to keep her son from acting out in basically any public setting – particularly school – a mysterious children’s book appears in their home, filled with disturbing pop out pictures and a sinister message. Soon after, the son becomes obsessed with The Babadook and the mother begins to unravel as the book’s monster begins to haunt their home.

Kent utilizes atmosphere and a slow build to create scares and tension in The Babadook and the result is quite easily the best horror film of 2014 and one of the better movies overall. The film feels like a cross between A Nightmare On Elm Street and Jumanji, but back when Freddy Krueger was still scary and a bit of a mystery. The monster is pretty unique but, although it gets title billing, mostly takes a back seat to the relationship between son and mother and Essie Davis’ remarkable transformation. Davis was so good in The Babadook that I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better performance in a horror movie. In fact, I was so impressed that I kept thinking about how much her acting reminded me of Ellen Burstyn’s work in Requiem For A Dream, which is one of my all-time favorite performances. Davis genuinely steals the show.

The Babadook is smart, unique, and genuinely scary. It ranks up there with The Conjuring and It Follows as the best horror movies of the past five years or so. Complete with a knockout performance from its lead actress, it’s a must see film for horror fans and highly recommended for all but the most squeamish filmgoers.

Replay Value: I’d watch it again.
Sequel Potential: This is the kind of strong film that typically launches a franchise that eventually becomes completely watered down.
Oscar Potential: No Oscar attention, but lots of accolades from everywhere else – particularly as a debut film and for Davis’ acting.

Grade: 7/10 (Must See)

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