Essie Davis stars as the damaged, frazzled widow who lost her husband in a car accident on the day of their son’s birth. Fast forward seven years and her grief has left her on the brink of a nervous breakdown. If that isn’t bad enough the poor woman is now being stalked by the bad guy from a very twisted not so children’s, children’s book.
In this Exorcist/The Ring hybrid movie, director Jennifer Kent does and excellent job at setting a chilling atmosphere leaving you too terrifyingly spellbound to yell at the screen.
Stylistic camera shots create an intense feel, especially the close chopping ones, which thicken the sense of unease. Sound is used in various ways – from the fizzy crackling of a light to the subtle way the music creeps in and abruptly stomps out – to heighten the tension and keep you in the dark when it comes to the unsettling direction the film is taking. The combination of both the visuals and the sound work together to produce a sophisticated, pants wetting effect.
The choice of cast is apt. Davis commits to the role of on edge mum Amelia as does Noah Wiseman when he takes on the part of Samuel, her son. Isolated in grief and shunned because of Samuel’s behavioural problems the two forge a pact to protect each other against the monstrous Babadook, a pact which is put to the test.
Where the movie lets itself down is at the end. An unclear, unsatisfying ending over who the Babadook is or was and where it came from leaves a sour taste in ones mouth.
However that can all be alleviated by the strength of the cast and the core of the story, which is utterly captivating.
A perfect chilly, thriller but if your stomach is made of stronger stuff The Babadook still has plenty of enjoyment on offer.