Hor­ror proves hard work

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - THE BABADOOK Now show­ing at The State Cin­ema


ESSIE Davis has a new­found re­spect for hor­ror movie ac­tors af­ter mak­ing the chill­ing Aus­tralian fi lm The Babadook. The ac­claimed Tas­ma­nian ac­tor and star of Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mys­ter­ies chases crooks on the ABC tele­vi­sion se­ries but in The Babadook, she’s the one fl ee­ing for her life.

Davis said for at least a third of The Babadook, her char­ac­ter Amelia is in a state of sheer ter­ror from things that go bump in the night – and fi lm­ing was no pic­nic ei­ther.

“At the end of the day, I’m usu­ally just ex­hausted,” she said.

“Re­ally, my hat goes off to ev­ery ac­tor who’s ever had to be ter­rifi ed in a hor­ror fi lm, be­cause ter­ror is one of the most ex­haust­ing emo­tions you can feel.

“Lit­er­ally, your whole body be­comes this block of ten­sion and fear. It is ex­haust­ing to have that much adrenalin run­ning through your body for eight hours a day – or 10 hours, or 12 hours, or how­ever long we did it for ev­ery day.”

In The Babadook, Davis stars as Amelia, a sin­gle mother whose hus­band was killed as she was be­ing rushed to the hospi­tal to give birth.

Years later, she’s strug­gling to deal with her “out- of- con­trol” son Sa­muel ( played by Noah Wise­man), who is con­vinced there’s a monster com­ing to get them.

When a dis­turb­ing chil­dren’s book called Mis­ter Babadook ap­pears at the house, Amelia starts to feel an eerie pres­ence and won­der if what Sa­muel is see­ing is ac­tu­ally true.

Writ­ten and di­rected by Davis’ friend and fel­low NIDA grad­u­ate Jennifer Kent, The Babadook has been gen­er­at­ing rave re­views since it screened at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val ear­lier this year.

It’s been praised not only for its clas­sic hor­ror scares, but the way it ad­dresses what hap­pens when people sup­press what they feel.

As the mother of two ( twins, born in 2006) with Snow­town di­rec­tor Justin Kurzel, Davis said she could see her­self in Amelia.

“She’s very recog­nis­able,” she said.

“She’s unique but she’s refl ec­tive of what a lot of moth­ers have gone through and the na­ture of mother­hood, as well as the na­ture of re­pres­sion of trau­matic events.”

Davis said people from all walks of life had been touched by The Babadook.

At Sun­dance, she re­mem­bers a big bik­er­look­ing hor­ror afi cionado in his 60s stand­ing up dur­ing the post- screen­ing Q& A.

“He was just kind of shat­tered, and said, ‘ That’s the story of me and my mum’,” she said.

Per­son­ally, Davis feels a great em­pa­thy for Amelia.

“I’m very sad­dened by her story and sad about the times in my life where I may have be­haved like that or things I wished that I hadn’t said. And I feel in­cred­i­bly sorry for her,” she said.

“She is try­ing to be so unim­ped­ing on any­one else’s life and she is a per­son that’s cop­ing as well as she can, but no one can re­ally help her, be­cause no one … wants to help her.”

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