'The Babadook' Review: Classic Horror that Will Genuinely Creep You Out
I have to start this out by saying that The Babadook was one of the best horror films I've seen in years. It doesn't rely on cheap scares or special effects. Instead, it's a character story, and its real horror comes from the relationship between the film's characters.
The Babadook is the story of Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Samuel's father died in a car accident that happened when he was driving Amelia to the hospital to have Samuel, a fact that Samuel shares with strangers quite often. Almost seven years later, Amelia has still not figured out how to cope with the death of her husband and, between working at a nursing home and taking care of a troubled child, has fallen into depression.
One night Samuel picks out a book for Amelia to read to him called Mister Babadook. Neither of them know where the book came from, and the Babadook gets into Sam's head. His outbursts increase, he gets kicked out of school, and he even breaks his cousin's nose. At first Amelia thinks he's just being a difficult child, but eventually the Babadook gets into her head too, and she starts to believe.
If you're looking for more of a Conjuring-type horror movie that makes you jump every five seconds, you might not love he Babadook as much as I did. (I thought The Conjuring was great, by the way.) Rather, The Babadook is filled with tension, and director Jennifer Kent smartly shows the monster as minimally as possible, letting the viewer's imagination fill in the blanks. The truly terrifying parts of the movie are the scenes when Amelia's relationships with the various people in her life teeter on the brink of destruction.
Essie Davis gives a frightening performance, and newcomer Noah Wiseman is creepy without playing into the stereotypical terrifying child in a horror film. These two anchor the film in the very real horrors humanity. The Babadook exists less as a monster in and of itself and more as a way to enhance the grief and troubles of Amelia and her son.
The Babadook is a horror film that makes you think about the things that scare you, not just the supernatural scary things but the real life scary things. It's so terrifying because it's so relatable. Not to mention, the ending tied the whole film together in a ridiculously creepy way that I was not expecting. Just don't make my mistake—don't watch this movie at night. I needed a good dose of trashy tv to get the Babadook out of my head.