Chilling. This is about a single mother (Essie Davis), who has a son that is a bit of an odd duck (Noah Wiseman). He is constantly in fear of a monster that he read about in a morbid pop-up book called the Babadook, and he is convinced that it’s in the house, but the question remains: how much of this is a child’s active imagination, and how much is real? I’ve been a fan of the horror genre for some time now, and I had thought that I had already seen the horror movie of the year in Oculus, as it is a very high quality offering. The Babadook tops that, and I would say that this is the strongest horror movie since The Conjuring, if not even stronger than that. All of the buzz you have heard about this low budget Australian horror flick is absolutely on point, and if you partake in the genre, you’re in for a treat.
Featuring the most unnerving children’s book of all time.
A little bit of inspiration can go miles, and you can tell that everybody was 100% onboard with making a great overall product. It makes your spine tingle with creepy effects, and if I am being honest here, I put my hands over my face for a number of different scenes. It really freaked me out at a number of different points, and because it is so well made, it leaves an impression. It deals with isolation and has an emotional core, which is something that the majority of the truly great horror movies have. The whole time, you’re not sure exactly what is going on here; is this woman losing her mind, or is there something more sinister going on with this kid? What raises the stakes even further is the fact that you’re not safe during the day, which you so rarely see in these movies. It all leads to a conclusion that is even sparser in horror, and I absolutely love where this movie ends up.
This is also a movie that subscribes to the “less is more” theory of horror, showing you just the necessary amount, and letting your imagination do the rest of the work.
This is a mystery as well as a horror film, and it keeps you on your toes, changing the dynamic entirely at about the midpoint and flipping the script. There is a terrific unsettling score that does nothing but amplify how foreboding the situation is, and I couldn’t help but notice how great the mixing of the music to sound effects is. It’s very well shot and put together, and it is smarter than most; you can tell that Jennifer Kent, the creator of this (who had a role in Babe: Pig in the City, apparently), really has a knack of knowing how to put a movie together. This is everything I love about psychological horror, and it had the exact effect this kind of movie is supposed to have: it made me want to turn on the lights (but I didn’t, of course).
The Babadook (2014) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.