FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT… The terrif ying supernatural shocker from Down Under.
I T’S AN AUSSIE FILM
Adapted from her sinister short film
Monster, The Babadook is the directorial feature debut of Australian actress- turned- filmmaker Jennifer Kent and concerns a malicious entity that haunts a single mother and her problematic child. Featuring an entirely Aussie cast and crew, it was filmed in the sparse South Australian city of Adelaide, which grants the exteriors a certain idiosyncratic distinction not normally attributed to Australia, as the filmmaker reiterates.
“There’s something peculiar about Adelaide and about its architecture,” says Kent. “It’s a world of its own making, which was a perfect environment for The Babadook as it has its own consistent rules but isn’t particularly set anywhere. It’s like a Brothers Grimm fairytale. I guess that was the feeling I was after but I wanted a strangeness to the world.”
THE VISUALS ARE DISTINCTIVE
For The Babadook’s distinct visual
2 style Kent was also influenced by the German pioneers of 1920s expressionist silent cinema, renowned for evoking their characters’ mental states and situations through dramatic use of lighting and setting in such classics as The Cabinet Of Dr
Caligari and Nosferatu. “The early origins of cinema were really exciting. I loved how they took the mind and psychological reality and put it into the space,” she says. “That’s what we aimed to do with
The Babadook but in a contemporary way and I feel lucky at what we arrived at.
THERE’S AN AMBIGUOUS ANTAGONIST
Introduced via the suspicious arrival
3 of a deeply disturbing children’s pop- up storybook entitled “Mister Babadook”, the titular threat is one of the most unsettling screen boogeymen of recent times. But is it purely psychological or could it stem from something more primal?
“I think the question is left up to the audience to decide,” considers Kent. “I wanted to look at it in quite an abstract way. What would happen if someone suppressed something terrible to the point where it gained enough energy that it split off and became something alive?”
I T’S NOT a CONVENTIONAL HORROR film
Although preferring to label her film
4 a psychological thriller, Kent has the smarts to acknowledge that horror encapsulates a far broader cinematic context.
“I’m not a genre fan, but I do love films that fit within the horror canon,” admits the filmmaker. “For me a film like David Lynch’s
Lost Highway is the essence of what’s horrific about the human mind. I feel The Babadook is a myth – a mythical story in a domestic setting – and sometimes myths are scary and usually scary to wake you up in some way.”
THERE’S A POWERHOUSE CHILD PERFORMANCE
For a claustrophobic double- hander
5 between actress Essie Davis ( The
Matrix Reloaded/ Revolutions) and six- year- old newcomer Noah Wiseman, Kent was able to call upon her previous acting experience to elicit an extremely convincing performance from her young male lead.
“I found myself feeling the emotions with Noah so it was a safe space for him to go into,” says the director. “If he had to be terribly angry in a scene I had to be prepared to go there with him to show him how, and give him permission I guess. A lot of directors are frightened of actors but I’m not, because I know how they work.”
The Babadook is released on Friday 24 October.
Noah Wiseman has already mastered the art of peering around corners.
What’s more creepy than a story book monster? A magician. That’s what.