Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Running Time: 93 minutes
The horror film that was on everyone’s lips last year finally makes its way to Home Entertainment formats. It comes with a huge amount of hype, and it’s actually something I missed at its FrightFest appearance and the following theatrical release. For me, THE BABADOOK doesn’t exactly live up to the hype but it’s in no way a bad a horror film. In fact, it’s a very good one but it still follows many of the same rules and set-ups of films gone before.
The plot focuses on your regular creepy child (Wiseman), who sees an imaginary monster known as The Babadook. The boy has behavioral difficulties, and his talk of monsters is driving widowed mother, Amelia (Davis), round the bend. The psychological elements are intertwined with the emotional scars that each character has, always making us question whether there is a paranormal element, or whether the son and/or mother, is just a tad unhinged. This is always the best way to tackle horror, as it puts it on a relatable level of understanding.
Jennifer Kent’s film also avoids simple jump scares. There’s no abuse of loud noises for the sake of it, and the slow way in which the tension builds up is fantastic to behold. However, with slow build up there should also be satisfactory payoff, which is something THE BABADOOK never really grasps. In fact, the book within the film is a creepier and more conclusive tale than what we’re presented with on screen.
There has been a lot of talk this year regarding lack of diversity at the Oscars, and I would push it further than race or sex, and mention how horror is cruelly ignored. Davis’ performance is award worthy, and if the supernatural element had been removed thus leaving us with a dark drama, you can bet your ass she would have been recognised. THE BABADOOK is a well made horror with atmosphere and genuine moments of terror but it’s also just a very well made version of things we’ve seen before.
[usr=3] THE BABADOOK is released on DVD and Blu-ray today.