A film to help keep the horror genre alive and buck the modern trend of either rehashing old pained stories and techniques or using handheld cameras. Independent and original, from writer and director Jennifer Kent (this is inspired by her previous short film ‘Monster’ 05 that she created after an apprenticeship under Lars Von Trier, working on ‘Dogville’ in 03), the film revolves around single mother Amelia (Essie Davis) and her young boy Sam (Noah Wiseman), a ‘special’ kid whose unique take on social interaction and his obsession with weaponry forces the mother to take him out of school. Trying to send him off to sleep one night, Amelia takes a mysterious book that she has no memory of, ‘Mister Babadook’, down off the shelf and begins reading to Sam, only to quickly stop when she realises it describes the creepy creepy Babadook whom, once acknowledged in the reader’s mind, comes into existence to torment and pervert the family.
Allowing us to feel sympathetic toward both main characters, the film plays with the scenario that the Babadook may be real, but also that actually Amelia may just be going completely mental under the stress of dealing with Sam and indeed life in general, with more than a couple of golden comedic moments in this vein along the way. Curiously, the Babadook concept and book are very likeable, threatening too, but the illustrations have a certain darkly humorous charm to them. Indeed, the book used in the film is set to be published in print form next year due to popular demand – can there be a better present for someone you don’t like? Although really you should just stick it into their kid’s bookcase when they’re not looking ….