The Babadook (2014)

Horror is one of those genres I actively avoid, only really enjoying it as a dash of genre in other works (I love David Lynch’s use of horror for example, but would never actually seek out a horror film). But I truly loved “The Babadook”, an Australian horror directorial debut by Jennifer Kent, starring Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman.

Davis and Wiseman are absolutely fantastic, Wisemen a particularly skilled child actor. A tough, strained relationship between a widow and a problem child son is fertile ground for drama, and the film takes its time examining the psychology of the two characters. While the subtext gets pretty unsubtle in the third act, the use of horror conventions and monsters to explore the repressed grief and child resentment of a widow is absolutely fascinating, and skillfully managed by Kent.

The ending takes the subtext to a logical conclusion, but breaks so far out of the conventional horror structure that some might be dissatisfied. I was thrilled however; enjoying the movie as an exploration of grief and resentment far more than as a pure horror.

My one complaint would be some of the effects of the actual Babadook itself are lacking (I don’t just mean visual effects, sound effects too), but given the film’s small budget I don’t find this hard to forgive.

The film is a skillful exploration of a mother and son’s relationship, and uses psychological horror conventions to explore subconscious feelings one would try to suppress.

I give it four squirmy worms, and a burnt book.

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