The bad- a book
Essie Davis and seven- year- old newcomer Noah Wiseman star in this creepy horror, hitting the big screen.
Release Date: 24 October 15 | 94 minutes Distributor: StudioCanal Director: Jennifer Kent Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tim Purcell, Cathy Adamek, Hayley McElhinney
The Baba- what? Like its unsettling but strangely familiar title, this debut horror from Australian director Jennifer Kent is both heartbreakingly relatable and eerily uncanny, as a bedtime story becomes a monstrous nightmare.
Matrix Revolutions star Essie Davis plays frazzled widow Amelia, whose husband was killed in a car accident and whose six- yearold son Samuel ( Noah Wiseman – endearing, infuriating, sweet, weird) is convinced there’s a monster living in his house. And, unfortunately, there is. Samuel plans to smash the monster’s head in with homemade weaponry, until one night he finds a book called Mr Babadook in his bedroom. It’s about a grinning ghoul who knocks three times – “Ba- baba Dook! Dook! Dook!” – and who once he’s come in will never leave.
Relying primarily on sounds and shadows, the Babadook himself is mostly insinuated through inexorably terrifying black charcoal drawings in Samuel’s book. You see the pictures, you hear the knocks, you can imagine exactly what’s coming to get you. Indeed, the production design gives a sense of the film existing within a storybook too, a “pop- up book movie” as Kent herself has described it, with a narrative crafted carefully so as to be completely satisfying and logical as supernatural reality or as poignant metaphor.
Though you do get glimpses of the tangible form of the Babadook, this isn’t a monster movie. Beginning like We Need To Talk About Kevin and moving towards the chills and emotional heft of The Orphanage, it hinges on Essie Davis’s performance. As Amelia, she’s terrific – brittle and anguished but always understated.
The Babadook feels very female- and adult- focused, centring as it does on a mother struggling to love her own child, though it carries its fair share of jumps and shocks and a vein of dark humour too. Far smarter and more original than anything coming out of America right now, this fresh, moving, and hide- behind- your- coat thriller will be the standout horror film of 2014. Rosie Fletcher
For the Babadook, Kent invented a name that would be onomatopoeic and the sort of word a child might come up with. “Hey, mum, are those my Christmas presents up there?”