‘The Babadook’ is One of the Year’s Best Horror Films

Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, the suspense and shock moments give the film a very sharp and scary edge.

Noah Wiseman and Essie Davis

One of my favorite scary movies of the year, “The Babadook” sends chills rather than shocks and works by stealth providing nothing but eerie discomfort.

Much of the anxiety induced by this Australian film is achieved through sound as it follows a widowed mother and her troubled son who are grappling with a supernatural force in their home.

Written and directed by Jennifer Kent (her feature debut), the story introduces us to Amelia (Essie Davis), an anxious caregiver by day who is exasperated with her six year old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Amelia, who lost her husband in a car accident while speeding to the hospital to give birth to Samuel, finds that she cannot love him because she hasn’t been able to face the grief of what happened. Samuel, as a result, has become a hyperactive, troubled little boy whose constant mischief and tantrums has had him suspended from several schools and distanced them from family members. Both are dealing with suppressed feelings. Amelia is a forlorn and lonely creature who seems saddled with life’s pressures and looks well beyond her years and Samuel’s become a nerdy introverted and tormented kid who is shunned by his classmates.

When he discovers a pop-up book titled “Mister Babadook” about a supernatural creature that once someone is made aware of its existence torments that person indefinitely, he becomes convinced the Babadook is stalking them. Traumatized and haunted with this image, his dreams become plagued by this sinister shadowy monster with gnarly teeth that he believes is coming to kill them both. As his obsession and nightmares worsens, Amelia’s nerves become frayed and she too becomes traumatized. Naturally and genuinely frightened by Samuel’s behavior she is forced to medicate him as the imaginary Babadook takes its toll on both.

What makes “The Babadook” so effective is Kent’s superb handling of the suspense and shock moments which lend the film a sharp and scary edge.

Extremely creepy, it evolves so effectively and is a great psychological horror that rests squarely on Wiseman’s hunched little shoulders. As the tormented Samuel, his wide eyed gazes are hauntingly effective.Noah Wiseman as Samuel

A brilliant film about a mother and her possessed son, Kent clearly demonstrates how a well-written script and taut direction coupled with an eerie score can triumph over any premise.

Pictured top: Noah Wiseman and Essie Davis in a scene from  “The Babadook” (Credit: Matt Nettheim)

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at samantha.ofole@caribpress.com

 

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