Posted by Ashley B at Thursday, January 23, 2014 3 Comments
Amelia (Essie Davis) is a widow struggling to raise her precocious and often temperamental son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Amelia's personal life begins to deteriorate and resentment of more than one kind grows towards her son, when an ominous children's book appears on Samuel's bookshelf. Enter the Babadook, a phantom that lurks in the darkest of corners and seems to want nothing more than to savor the taste of the fear it inspires. When unsettling and dangerous incidents begin occurring all around the house, the audience can't help but watch as both Samuel and Amelia's worlds begin to unravel as they learn where the Babadook really comes from and what he is truly after.
This is one of the most genuinely frightening horror films I've seen in the past few years. Running throughout its entirety is a general feeling of unease which stays with the viewer even after they've left the theater. Our protagonists aren't sure of what is real and what are insomnia-induced imaginings, which means we the audience must rely on our own interpretations and sort out for ourselves what transpires. And let me tell you, the viewers' senses are surely taxed. The Babadook doesn't so much slither in the shadows rather than use them to permeate the entire house, filling one's perception with a weighty dread, a dread that drives Amelia to the edge. The creature is everywhere, lurking in the corner of your eye, grinning from the shadows when you least expect it. The Babadook has an organic feel, as if it could possibly exist, making it seem as if an unfortunate traveler could encounter it in the wild.
Along with the portrayal of the Babadook itself, the children's book, and I use that term lightly, announcing the creature's arrival is one of the most sinister pieces of literature I have ever seen. The disturbing visuals presented in the childish form of a pop-up book linger with you after the lights in the theater have gone up and help to heighten the anxiety the audience already shares with Amelia and Samuel.
The unique visuals are a wonderful example of how less is always more with a good horror film. My imagination was in overdrive every time the Babadook slunk on screen. To go along with that, the use of sound was notable as well. The soundtrack would build to heighten the tension, then cut off, leaving the audience breathless and hanging on the edge of their adrenaline high. The voice and noises of the Babadook itself were also excellent, causing more than one audience member to squirm in their seats.
The Babadook will be distributed internationally by Entertainment One and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to know what real suspense feels like. If you are a fan of A.J Bayona's The Orphanage, this is a movie with a similar feel. I'm an adult and this is a bedtime story that made me think twice before turning off the lights.
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