The Babadook

HORROR; 1hr 30min

STARRING: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman

Spookshow: Davis and Wiseman

Faded widow Amelia (Davis) is so put-upon it’s a wonder she’s upright. She’s still grieving for her husband, her first-grader son, Sammy (Wiseman), is a clingy, screamy, nightmare-plagued outsider and her job in an old people’s home is the last word in unexciting. Then there’s the Babadook, a fiendish spook in an evil-looking kids’ book (or is it?) that has come to murderous life and is haunting her dismal house.


Writer-director Jennifer Kent transitions from the dejected to the macabre in such fluid steps that the one seamlessly becomes the other. Naturally, Amelia and Sammy are alone in their suffering, isolation being a central component of psychological horror. Not only is there nowhere to run, there’s no one to run to: in a twisted perversion of intimacy, the demon has taken root. The Babadook is primarily Amelia’s monster and Davis is brilliantly unhinged, segueing from weepily exhausted to bugged-out insane. Her strand-by-strand unravelling, paralleled by the grotesque programs she watches, blearily, on TV, is madness descending with shocking, hallucinatory force.