When I got to see The Babadook at Fantastic Fest I realized quickly it was something special. Maybe it was that Edgar Wright, Kumail Nanjiani, and Leonard Maltin were sitting together to see it. Maybe it was the general festival hype. But there was an undeniable energy going into it. So without further ado let me get into it.
The film follows Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) in Australia. Amelia’s husband died while taking her to the hospital for Samuel’s death, and she has raised him alone. Samuel is a fearful kid who has taken to lashing out and developing dangerous defenses. As such Amelia is kind of at her wits end as is. Things only get worse when a book appears on his bookshelf titled The Babadook. As they read it they realize it is a dark story about an evil presence, and it makes Samuel more paranoid. What progresses is Amelia pushed more and more to her limits by Samuel, and a growing fear there may be an actual evil presence.
I’m going to go ahead and say that The Babadook does a great job of keeping you guessing what’s really up. Throughout you are unsure if there really is a Babadook or if Amelia and Samuel are just a bit nuts. Davis does a great job as a stressed mother trying to hold it together. And Wiseman plays a troubled kid so well that he may make you not want a kid anymore after seeing it. Writer/director Jennifer Kent here in her feature debut really balances the elements so of family drama and horror terrifically. Its not a perfect movie by any measure, but for me it is one that really messes with your expectations and handles it well. I also may or may not have the official release of the Babadook book from the film, and just like talking about it. What can I say. I’m a big fan. So watch this.