(Australia - 2014)
Written and directed by Jennifer Kent. Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McEllhinney, Daniel Henshall, Barbara West, Ben Winspear, Cathy Adamek, Craig Behenna, Tim Purcell. (Unrated, 94 mins)
Even before the initial appearance of a sinister monster sprung from the pages of a childrens' pop-up book, THE BABADOOK is a extraordinarily unsettling film that constantly threatens to suffocate the audience with despair and dread. Making her feature debut, Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent has created an instant cult item that not only avoids genre trends, but utilizes relatively primitive, low-budget visual effects in a stylish and effective way and still manages to leave most modern horror films and the so-called "masters of horror" who made them in the dust. The film centers on Abigail (Essie Davis) and her six-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). They live in a gray, dreary house with their dog Bugsy, and it doesn't take long to conclude that there are problems in this family. Abigail is raising Samuel on her own, as her husband Oskar (Ben Winspear) was killed in a car accident...driving her to the hospital to have Samuel. A former magazine journalist who settled for the 9-to-5 world after becoming a single mother, Abigail is barely hanging on to her nursing job at a retirement home, and Samuel is convinced there's a monster in the house and has started constructing homemade weapons to combat it and protect his mother. Things get worse when a pop-up book about a boogeyman called Mister Babadook suddenly appears, and the story's promise of "If it's in a word or it's in a look, you can't get rid of the Babadook" traumatizes Samuel to the point he starts having seizures when he believes the Babadook is nearby and approaching him.