Since it's in both a word and a look, I can't get rid of The Babadook, but I don't really want to either. The film follows the story of Amelia (Essie Davis), a mother who's in grief after the death of her husband. One night her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), asks her to read him a mysteriously appearing book titled 'The Babadook.' After getting just a few pages in Amelia realises that it may not be the most appropriate book out there, but since young children are always right, she reads on. What they discover is that once you've read the book, the babadook comes for you.
I'm not joking when I say that The Babadook just may slot in as one of the scariest films I have ever seen. It's a film I missed in cinemas (although I'm sure that would've added to the overall experience), but I've been looking forward to for several months now. I'd heard amazing things and at this point in time it seemed that there'd be no way that the film could exceed my enormous expectations. Well, I was wrong. The Babadook blew me away on so many levels. It's a film with little jump scares, but with a magnitude of suspense. There's a constant sinister atmosphere present throughout, this atmosphere always coming off as threatening, haunting and rather dangerous.
While on the surface The Babadook is just a horror movie, under the skin it's a deep and metaphorical movie with a lot more to offer than it originally appears. It's a story about grief, or more specifically Amelia's grief. Her husband is dead and her son's rather disruptive. She's loosing sleep, patience and sanity, and so when the babadook comes for a visit she's pushed beyond her limits. Her grievances explode, and as does the events in her life. It's an appealingly simple film that's not in any way simple.
While the execution is slow, when things hit the fan they hit it hard. It's a film that takes its time in setting up the central characters, the story and the actual babadook. With some brilliant direction and cinematography, this slow build up is worth it, for when things hit the fan (and they do) the film takes on a whole other level of amazing. It's terrifying and will leave you trembling, or at least it did for me anyway.
Essie Davis gives one of the strongest female performances this year. Her character is on the brink of insanity and her performance is spot on. She can capitulate her character's fear, anxiety and tough figure. Her character is both in love with her son and she hates him, and Davis makes this believable. She can performance both the hate and the love in a way that's, well, perfect.
And speaking of her son, Noah Wiseman also gives a powerful performance, slotting in as one of the better child performances of the year. I honestly can't believe that this child was following along with any sort of script. His performance is so natural and worrying, full of unexpected decisions and rather abusive reactions to things. It's shocking, but, like with Davis, believable. He probably won't slot in as one of the top performances of the year, but as far as children go, he just may top it. The male one anyway.
To sum up, The Babadook is a true horror film, relying on tension, atmosphere and deeper meanings. It's a well acted, filmed and directed movie that is honestly one of the scariest films I have ever seen.
4 1/2 Stars