Friday, December 5, 2014

The Babadook (SIFF 2014) - Movie Review

The Babadook is an Australian horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent in her debut effort. The movie, which was featured during the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival, stars Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman, and Tim Purcell.

Amelia (Davis) has been trying to piece her life back together ever since the tragic death of her husband although their son Robbie (Henshall) has been having a very difficult time. His growing fear of a monster lurking in the household becomes more of an issue when he starts acting out at school and disrupts a cousin's birthday party. Amelia tries, at first, to convince Robbie that there is no monster although she soon realizes that he may be on to something when more and more things begin to go bump in the night.

Honestly, there is a heck of a lot to like about this movie. The premise of the monster and its origin is both original and familiar at the same time. Jennifer Kent has found a great way to breathe new life into the classic boogeyman story we all know so well while wrapping it into a truly heart wrenching story about dealing with the loss of a loved one. From the very beginning there is a sense of uneasiness that sits at a slow simmer and then slowly begins to increase as the tension builds and the scares pile up. All of this leads to a moment that, for me, is one of the best horror movie climaxes in recent memory which can't tell you anything else about because it would ruin the movie for you.

Essie Davis, in the role of Amelia, is absolutely brilliant and deserves to receive all kinds of little trophies and plaques for the effort she puts in to her performance. There is such a roller coaster ride of emotions that Amelia goes through over the course of the movie and Ms. Davis handles all of it with flawless execution. On the other hand, the young Mr. Henshall nearly had me walking out of the theater he was so annoying although I can't really blame him as an actor, this falls squarely on the director's shoulders. Yes, I know his freak outs and melt downs are all part of the story, but my goodness I could only take so much of his screaming and shrieking which seemed to take up way too much of the film.

The horror genre seems to be at a high point right now with a steady stream of main money makers and independent hits and it's very nice to see a movie like this seemingly come out nowhere to grab a little bit of that spotlight. The Babadook gives genre fans so much to enjoy that even a few minor gripes shouldn't keep this movie from being a smashing success.


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