Film Review: The Babadook

The Babadook

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is a horror that successful generates a pervading atmosphere of unease. The film delivers the chills effectively.

Widowed Amelia is still coming to terms with the sudden death of her husband several years ago. Amelia struggles to cope with the erratic behaviour of her son Samuel, who is convinced there is a monster in their house…

Writer-director Jennifer Kent’s take on the haunted house narrative is a nervy experience that should sate horror fans looking for a Halloween fix. The Babadook features a narrative that keeps viewers engaged, and enough scares to keep them on their toes.

One of the film’s strong points is its narrative. Initially appearing to be standard haunted house fare, the film develops beyond this as it progresses. There are sufficient red herrings in The Babadook to keep audiences guessing. The film seems like it is heading in a certain direction to begin with, but Kent wisely subverts this. The lack of predictability in the film is refreshing.

Pacing in The Babadook is great. The film effectively introduces the background of the family, allowing certain issues to come into play later in the narrative. There are some familiar tropes in the film, but these do not detract from the overall enjoyment. There are enough jumpy moments in The Babadook to have a lasting effect.

Essie Davis is solid as Amelia. Her exhaustion is effectively conveyed. Noah Wiseman is also good as Samuel. Sound design in the film is very effective. Art direction gives The Babadook a distinctive look. There is something earthy, bordering on grimy, that works well with the overall feel of the film.

The Babadook is a successful horror thanks to the atmosphere it generates. Jennifer Kent wisely chooses not to reveal all in the film, giving audiences something to ponder as they depart.