This one built suspense and tensity to deliver its intended themed, and added with great performances, was as fresh a film in the genre, since “The Conjuring”.
“THE BABADOOK” tells the story of a widowed mother named Amelia (Essie Davis), who while still coping with her husbands death, has to raise her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) all on her own. What Amelia first suspects as her sons dealing with his fathers passing, soon grows into something more sinister as she realizes the monster inside her sons room is not in his imagination.
There are many forms of horror and while most will opt for the blood and gore, there is a case that can be made for a sinister tale that builds suspense through settings, story structure, and character acting. With this recipe in tact, a script can result in a horror film that will make you jump a couple times, have you on the edge of your seat, and fully immersed in a tale that delivers an ominous and creepy vibe.
This film did just that. It starts by swiftly setting the scene and delivering the intended helplessness and social isolation of the mother and child. From there it does not take long for the story-line to get going as the boy begins to see something haunting him in his bedroom. With the solid writing you are able to relate to the pressures felt by Amelia as she tries to support her son on her own.
She is still heartbroken from losing her husband, and trying to comprehend what is happening to her innocent boy as the outbursts begin to grow more frequent. The intrigue in these characters and their predicament is not only accomplished by the writing, but in the cast performances as well. Both Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman were excellent in their roles.
Davis was able to deliver the full range of emotions needed to make for a compelling performance. Davis captured her characters dire loneliness, exhaustion and eventual anger. She was spot on and clearly added to the enjoyment of this film you bought into her performance and you can feel for her characters struggles. Yet; as good as her performance was, she was still outdone by the young Wiseman who is truly what made this film the quality horror tale it resulted in. Honestly there were some moments where he was a little on the annoying side but it was all something that added to the character he was playing.
His portrayal of the young Samuel was as convincing as it was creepy delivering one of the more underrated performances of the year by a child actor in my opinion. He was captivating in his interactions and conveyed all the needed expressions of emotions to pull you into the plot. With a script and strong performances to lure you into the premise you are given a genuine interest in the characters as well as their eventual outcome in the story-line.
Also; the premise of the Babadook was fun for this film. The ominous antagonist of the film lingered mostly in the shadows, reminiscent to the shark in “Jaws”. Most of the appearances are kept subtle and quick, this added with an eerie score during his presence delivers the intended tension in an enjoyable way. This was something that worked well for the film as you are carried along by a simplistic yet intriguing story, with well written dialogue, rather than the common in-your-face horror elements. Your anticipation is perfectly built and the film gives you just enough of the closest-dwelling creature to leave you satisfied in the end.
Overall this was a surprisingly entertaining film and another breath of fresh air in the genre. The performances cannot be over-mentioned and for anyone who would like to sit back for an evening and enjoy a quality horror film that borders on the genre of thriller, then “The Babadook” is definitely worth a viewing.
– Starring –
Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall
– Directed By –
Time: 93 min
MPAA Rating: NR
3 thoughts on ““The Babadook” | Movie Review”
There’s actual emotion to it, which is what probably made it work the most. Nice review.
Thanks Dan, appreciate that. I completely agree with you.
I like it, AJ. Really nice review. This was an unusual, and an unusually unnerving, approach to horror. May there be much more of such done as well as “The Babadook” does it. I saw this one some months back and found myself feeling this way about the film:
The unsettling Australian chiller “The Babadook” is definitely not your typical monster movie. In fact, it’s not one at all in the classical sense of the long explored, and too oft exploited, genre.
Rather, this strange story of a widow, still grieving six years after the death of her husband in a car crash, and her troubled young son is really an allegorical tale of dealing with the pain of unbearable loss and the inability to let go of a loved one. The horrifying physical manifestation of the “Babadook” is no match for the debilitating emotional scarring it embodies.
The final moments of “Babadook” suggest that this mom and her child have succeeded in keeping the monster relatively at bay. And in so doing they have enabled their life together to carry on in relative peace and contentment.
Still, we get the lurking feeling that this is a tenuously fragile sense of happiness, forever fated to continue only at the mercy of the vicious impulse of a most sinister force.