The Babadook

by The Acolyte/Blaise Bienvenue

Here is a film that lives up to the hype. The Babadook is an emotionally complex, viscerally evocative odyssey through the most challenging psychic terrain that skirts the line between horror and drama without failing at either, though it often comes close. The closer, the better. It is a film that takes one to many edges. It tells of the struggles of a young widow and her boy. It is named after a childhood boogeyman of writer/director Jennifer Kent’s own creation, said boogeyman being represented on-screen by Alex Juhasz’s amazing pop-up book. The book was designed exclusively for the film and makes me think of Edward Gorey and Ralph Steadman locked together in a dungeon being forced to design children’s books for the Tonton Macoute.

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The movie is driven by the performances of its two principle actors, Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman. Both do brilliant work. Without them, the film would be nothing, though it is certainly well written, directed, and photographed. Special effects are used sparsely and subtly and work when they appear, which is exactly what is needed.

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Based on some of the film’s more genre-oriented images, comparisons are inevitable to The Shining, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist. In my opinion, more spiritually apt comparisons would be to Phantasm, The Brood, Curse of The Cat People, and The Virgin Spring. The broad topography of that list should be telling. This film was not made in a vacuum, but you’ve never seen anything like it. When it is at its most intense, it is identifiably real. It will take you places you’ve been that you don’t want to return to. Ultimately, it will reward you. Anything more specific would just detract from the experience of what you should definitely do if you haven’t already, which is to watch this movie.

– The Acolyte

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