“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of… THE BABADOOK.”
This independent Australian horror flick is an astonishing blend of THE SHINING and THE EXORCIST. And I’m not just listing two of the best horror movies ever to hype up BABADOOK unnecessarily. I mean it. The concept and themes strongly connect with these legendary masterpieces.
THE BABADOOK is a scary movie that’s actually scary.
“Amelia (ESSIE DAVIS) is a single mother plagued by the violent death of her husband. When a disturbing storybook called MISTER BABADOOK turns up at her house, she is forced to battle with her son’s deep-seated fear of a monster.” – from the DVD case
Davis delivers a transformative performance. She controls the screen with a strong magnetism, drawing our attention as her character traverses a complex arc. She literally metamorphosizes until she’s unrecognizable. You can see the weight of her crippling depression in the shocking finale.
BABADOOK is one of the best horror movies of last year. Now I know what all the hype was about. We have a delibrately paced, slow build of tension, mounting and escalating towards an epic horrifying conclusion.
I appreciate the inventive approach to BABADOOK. We’ve been inundated with countless ghost stories full of paranormal activity over the past few years. It’s refreshing to be terrified by an original monster.
The film is beautifully shot with a lot of static shots inspiring our imagination towards dread. When the camera does move it is to great effect. It’s the sort of edge-of-the-frame anticipation horror that JOHN CARPENTER put to great effect in his indie horror HALLOWEEN decades ago.
I really look forward to writer / director JENNIFER KENT’s next picture. She greatly impressed me with her craft in BABADOOK.
Like THE SHINING, the concept of THE BABADOOK is a book driving someone mad. Here it’s reading rather than writing. Other parallels to Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel are the isolated setting, a mentally disturbed son who somehow connects to the spirit world, and the slow descent of a parent into madness & violence.
Similar to Jack Torrance, the mother of BABADOOK is haunted by spirits and tragic memories. We also wonder if the character is really seeing these specters or if she has gone insane.
The film even has the famous SHINING bust-down-the-door scene. She bangs on a door, leaps up and hangs on its frame to kick it down, yelling like Jack Torrance’s Big Bad Wolf, “Let me in!” Her voice changes, deep and guttural, as she calls her son, “Lil pig” – strengthening the connection between these two horror movies.
The master himself, Stephen King, says BABADOOK is “Deeply disturbing and highly recommended.”
BABADOOK also thematically connects to THE EXORCIST with the possession of a dark entity and a disturbed young child with a single mother. In both films, a demon needs to be excorsised. And in both films, beds shake with ghostly vibrations. 😉
While the 70s classic may be more shocking, this contemporary horror is just as scary, with characters just as well-rounded and believable in the supernatural setting.
Oh yeah, and the boy here is just as mischievous as Danny Torrance in THE SHINING. He likes to make booby-traps and create his own weapons. I thought this was a pretty fun and unexpected element. I like that the kid isn’t totally helpless or anything.
I interpreted the story of BABADOOK as a metaphor to mental illness. The mother is suffering from deep depression, her child is threatened to be taken away by Child Services. She must overcome her depression to keep her son.
Depression is personified by the BABADOOK monster.
This Australian horror flick soars above the normal genre fair with stellar performances and well-crafted beautifully photographed camerawork. BABADOOK is an original scary movie that is actually frightening. It is isn’t built on cheap jump scares, but rather a mixture of slow brew tension and compelling psychological horror.
If you’re a true fan of horror don’t let THE BABADOOK slip/through the cracks.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.