Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Babadook


When this line was said during the movie I almost wet myself.

I've always been a fan of horror, but if you've read some of my past reviews of horror movies you probably wouldn't think so. You see, compared to every other genre out there, I'm at my most picky when it comes to horror movies. Why? Because good, interesting and original horror is slowly getting pushed out of the way in place for run-of-the-mill horror that overuses both jump-scares and shaky-cam. Don't get me wrong, I know someone could say the same for almost any genre, but horror is something that, if pulled off well, can make for the greatest movie experiences. Thankfully this latest offering harkens back to classics such as The Exorcist, The Omen and The Shining, as it expertly taps into raw human fears and emotions to astounding effect.

Directed by Jennifer Kent and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes The Babadook, the best horror movie I've seen since The Conjuring, another horror that I found to be incredible. The Babadook centres around single mother Amelia and her son Samuel. Samuel is not an ordinary child, and beyond his excessive problems at school, Samuel also has an interest in weapons. That's not a good combo. As much as Amelia wants to be a good mother, you can even tell that she's getting sick of his shit. One night Samuel asks Amelia to read him a bedtime story, and after looking through what's on offer on the bookshelf (by the way, the kid didn't even have a Tekwar book on the shelf, Sheesh!), she finds a book called Mister Babadook. The book starts out normal enough but gets pretty creepy, and basically focuses on a monster called Mister Babadook who can enter your house if you let it. While reading the book Samuel begins to get incredibly scared, though Amelia, more so than Samuel, seems utterly entranced by what she's reading. From there on into the movie Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is in their home, and backing up his suspicions are strange goings on, with doors opening on their own and unusual noises throughout the house being the least of the families worries.

The Babadook isn't a typical horror movie. It doesn't contain lashings of shaky-cam and gore. It doesn't depict the Babadook as a 15-ft tall CGI creature. It doesn't rely heavily on jump-scares. It doesn't rely on the same silly tropes that we see year in and year out in the cinema. No, The Babadook falls in line with some of the classics in terms of acting, story pacing and scares. It's starts off slow, it's often understated and though it's definitely chilling at first, it's only until around the halfway point where the real scares start coming. But these scares leave much to the imagination, which as all the greatest horror movies have thought us, is the key component of true terror- fear of the unknown, fear of what we may be capable of and fear of things we just can't comprehend. The Babadook offers up this kind of terror by the bucket load, and is definitely one of those movies that not only demands multiple viewings, but will also stick with you long after the credits have stopped.

The Babadook is superb horror, and this achievement mainly falls upon the shoulders of director/writer Jennifer Kent and Essie Davis who plays Amelia. First off, this is Jennifer Kent directorial debut, and for her to come out with something so powerful, creepy and unsettling is a bloody tremendous start to a career. Both in terms of directing and the utterly incredible script Kent brings to the table here, The Babadook excels in leaps and bounds, and truly hits home the fact that Kent is a talent to watch out for. The same kind of praise should be given to Essie Davis too, as her portrayal of Amelia is everything from heartbreaking to shocking. Through The Babadook Davis is hurled from emotion to emotion, and it's clear that it must have been a pretty rough shoot for her. But these two women ultimately make The Babadook not just memorable, but completely burnt into the memory of those who watch it.

Overall The Babadook is easily one of the best horror movies I have ever seen. It's unnerving and terrifying but also surprisingly moving and smart. Though it may be stacked alongside shit like Annabelle and The Purge, The Babadook really doesn't belong next to that garbage. It's horror movie-making at its best, and you need to watch it tonight.

The Babadook is provides incredible scares and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

The Babadook at CeX

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