First time writer and director Jennifer Kent brings us The Babadook, a film about a single mother and traumatised son, who are terrorise by a frightening children’s book monster.
Set in a quiet Australian suburb is the story of Amelia and Samuel. Still distraught 6 years after the death of her husband Amelia is desperately trying to raise her out of control son. From watching Amelia struggling with her aggressive child, to the mysterious ‘The Babadook’ book suddenly appearing to the physiological logical fallout that ensues, this is a cut above your average superficial James Wan regurgitation.
Essie Davis is outstanding as Amelia, hauntingly betraying a mother who wants to love her son but her feelings of resentment and fear prevents her from embracing him. As her son was born on the same day as her husband dying it leaves Amelia wrestling with her negative feelings towards her difficult child all the more. Similarly, Noah Wieseman is equally impressive as Samuel. Child actors can make or break a film, here Wieseman is completely believable as child whose behavioural issue leads his mother to dismiss his outlandish claims about a monster in the cupboard. Samuel is also struggling with the loss of the father, that he never knew, and the conflicting emotions that he towards his mother, who he loves and wants to protect, but also hates as he feels she is trying to keep the memory of his father to herself.
Like all the great horror films The Babadook is centred on the fear of children. From The Exorcist, The Shinning, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Alien, Let The Right One In, and even Halloween horror films have always found a way to present the unspoken fear adults have towards children. Whether it’s the fear of birth, becoming a parent or losing control of children it’s a deep seated fear that is rarely expressed openly but is beautifully portrayed in these films, and The Babadook is no different. Like Freddy Krueger, The Babadook is a decendant of monsters in the tradition of straw peter and long legged scissor man. Unlike Krueger, The Babadook’s terror doesn’t come from the monster itself, it comes from the manifestation of the disturbed feelings that the mother and son have towards each other.
Beautifully written, directed and acted The Babadook is modern fairytale that will linger in the mind long after you have left the cinema.
‘The Babadook’ opens in cinemas around the UK from October 24th.
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