Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Babadook (2014)

Director: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, Benjamin Winspear, Cathy Adamek, Craig Behenna

Amelia (Davis) is a widow, raising her son alone after her husband died in a car accident while she was in labor. Struggling in the relationship with the imaginative and somewhat disturbed Samuel (Wiseman), her only other source of friendship seems to be her elderly neighbour (West), her sister Claire (McElhinney) and the male orderly she works with (Henshall). One evening, Samuel presents a pop-up book titled 'Mister Babadook' about a creature who becomes destructive once a person is made aware of its presence.

Horror back to its best, reminiscent of Roman Polanski's masterpieces Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant, this simple but extremely well-made little piece filmed around Adelaide succeeds purely through the vision of Kent, though some may think this is something we've seen before and I, for one, can't defend that idea. One problem I had with the film is the likelihood that Amelia could afford to live in that huge house on the income of a nurse.

Davis lends a strong leading performance but take nothing away from young Wiseman who does an equally extraordinary job; Davis studied with Kent at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. The design of the film is wonderfully original and the imagery elements stay consistent throughout. At times it doesn't altogether make much sense and the story unnecessarily presents too many ideas on what The Babadook actually is but you can forgive its contrivances because the scares are so genuine. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud.


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