Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)

Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Jennifer Kent, this genuinely creepy Adelaide-set psychological horror/thriller was a hit at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Produced on a modest budget (less than $2 million, with about $30, 000 crowd-sourced through Kickstarter I understand) credit must go to the dedicated effort of the cast and crew. The result is technically impressive, atmospheric and emotionally fulfilling, and one of the top genre films to come out of the country in recent years.

Six years after the death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is struggling to discipline her wild six-year-old Samuel (Noah Wiseman), whose nightmare-fuelled, unsettling behaviour has become erratic, violent and alienating not only at home but also at his primary school.

Samuel’s birth shares a date with the death of her husband in a vehicular accident, when Amelia was en-route to the hospital. Lonely and struggling with the fatiguing pressures of single motherhood, Amelia is reminded of his passing on a daily basis and grapples with the ongoing guilt of finding her son difficult to love. She blames herself for his misbehaviour but can see no alternative to a pharmaceutical reprieve.

Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes a hiding in his closet and under his bed. When they read a disturbing storybook called The Babadook, which inexplicably turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the book’s monster, Mr Babadook, is the dreaded creature he has been dreaming about. Amelia attempts to quash his fears, but soon begins to succumb to the battle of both looking after her ailing son and trying to keep hold of her job at an assisted care facility. Her sanity becomes tenuous. Are Samuel’s fears for their lives genuine? She begins to see glimpses of the creature in daylight and plagued by lack of sleep and inherent fears, starts to realise that the book’s disturbing premonitions are unavoidable. 

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation


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