It was my brother who recommended me this film. He told me “You should see that horror film, the Mr. Baradok, or Babaruk, or Babadick, or something like that”, and I thought to myself “He doesn’t even know the name? Hell, it truly must be a very good film…”
The actual name is The Babadook, and it turned out to be a very good film indeed. It is the first long footage of the Australian director Jennifer Kent. The film takes place in a quiet suburban area somewhere in Australia, and it follows the story of a single mother trying to cope with the loss of her husband, while struggling to educate her troubled son.
It has been described by many critics as one of the scariest films ever made, but honestly I didn’t find this film that scary. It is indeed rated as an horror film, but in most parts it feels more like a psychological drama. It deeply explores raw human emotions like grief, hate, resentment, and the impact they have in the relationship between a mother and her child. This is what truly makes The Babadook a disturbing and unsettling film.
The main character is played by Essie Davis. An actress well known in Australia for her charismatic role as Miss Fisher, but here she plays a completely different character. She takes the role of a single mother who carries a tender yet tortured soul. Her performance in this film is magnificent to say the least, and I’m not exaggerating, hands down brilliant acting.
The film is well produced, it has a solid screenplay, it’s beautifully shot, and it doesn’t rely on special effects or scare jumps. What makes this film scary is the slow paced atmosphere build through out the scenes. It’s definitely not like the typical American horror films we have seen in the last years, The Babadook is smart and intelligent, and even if it doesn’t scary you, at least you can’t deny its cinematic quality.
In the end The Babadook is a sad moving story disguised as a psychological horror film. A great example of what the Australian cinema has to offer.