Nothing gets me more pumped for a movie than an effective trailer, as I’m sure is the case for a lot of us. When I first saw the trailer for Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, I knew I had to see it. If the movie ended up being even half as creepy as the trailer was, we’d have ourselves a shudder-inducer on par with anything that James Wan has ever attached his name to. Believe me when I tell you, that’s high praise coming from me.
Synopsis from IMDB:
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
It might be just because I’ve got young children of my own, but The Babadook really got to me. Being able to relate to Amelia’s situation made watching what was happening all the more difficult for me. Add to the mix one of the creepiest monsters in recent memory, and The Babadook had me looking over my shoulder and turning on lights throughout the house. I’m not one that easily freaked out, especially to that point, but The Babadook got his hands on me and never let go. This is James Wan level stuff on a shoestring budget, and it absolutely works.
I read that most of the film’s budget went into the art department, and it shows. The Babadook himself is goddamn terrifying. He looks like something straight out of a Tim Burton movie, if Tim Burton was an evil, sadistic bastard. He doesn’t have a ton of screen time, but when he does show up, your skin will crawl. Otherwise, there’s not a lot to talk about effects-wise. There’s not really much blood, although it does have a bit. This isn’t the type of movie that relies on the blood and guts to get where it’s going. Suspense is the name of the game, and The Babadook has it in spades.
For a movie that centers primarily around only a couple of characters and a monster, the performances easily fall into the “make or break” category. Thankfully, both Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman are spectacular. Davis in particular as Amelia is absolutely amazing. If it was up to me to hand out Academy Awards, right now I’d give the Best Actor award to Child of God’s Scott Haze, and I’d give the Best Actress award to Essie Davis, and without much deliberation.
When the credits finally rolled, I was still into this movie. As a matter of fact, It’s been on my mind all day today too. I’m totally planning on buying a bunch of red binders, drawing The Babadook on them, knocking on stranger’s doors and running away, leaving them behind on their porch. Admittedly, it won’t be for everybody, and some people may not even make it through the first half, as it mostly focuses on Samuel and Amelia. If you’re at all into creepy, atmospheric supernatural films that are character driven, and you don’t mind a bit of a slow burn, The Babadook is a no-brainer.