Review: The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook is an Australian horror movie by debut director Jennifer Kent. Essie Davis stars as Amelia, a widowed mother struggling to care for her son, Sam (Noah Wiseman). Still grieving from the loss of her husband ten years earlier, Amelia has a difficult time coping with her son’s behavioral problems. Sam struggles with anxiety, waking his mother at night because he is afraid of monsters in his room. He misbehaves at school, and is fond of making homemade weapons.

One night, Sam finds a strange pop-up picture book in the house titled Mr. Babadook. The book, which becomes increasingly sinister as the story progresses, tells of a monster named Mr. Babadook. Once you’re aware of Mr. Babadook’s existence, he will continually torment you and never go away. Subsequently, Amelia begins to see signs that the Babadook monster is real and is haunting her and Sam. The terror worms its way into Amelia’s head, threatening her already tenuous control over her difficult life.

The Babadook is a treat for viewers who enjoy creepy, psychological horror. It doesn’t offer much in the way of jump scares, and the somewhat ambiguous meaning and ending might turn off viewers who want a more straightforward monster movie. But the horror in The Babadook isn’t just the eponymous monster but what can happen to people under great emotional strain. How much more can Amelia survive before she can no longer recognize herself? The design of the Babadook monster itself is delightfully creepy and helps create a tense, foreboding atmosphere.

Verdict: Four out of five stars

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