Review: A bad book makes for a great movie

NOAH WISEMAN as SAMUEL in The Babadook.

NOAH WISEMAN as SAMUEL in The Babadook.

It’s seldom such a high quality Australian film is released to a worldwide audience. It was unclear whether or not to get caught up in the international film festival hype, but now it’s official – The Babadook is the first great Australian film of 2014, if not the last couple of years.

After his mother reads him a children’s pop-up book called The Babadook, Samuel begins to think the storey’s antagonist is real, lurking under his bed and in his wardrobe, hellbent on harming him and his mother. After some concern for her son’s mental wellbeing, Amelia quickly realises the presence haunting her son could be more than his wild imagination.

Inspired by horror classics like Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Raimi’s The Evil Dead director Jennifer Kent’s extraordinary and audacious debut is a white-knuckle knockout with a truly unique vision. Not since Robert Connolly’s The Turning has an Australian film showcased such raw and exciting new talent – in front of and behind the camera.

“Jennifer Kent’s extraordinary and audacious debut is a white-knuckle knockout with a truly unique vision.”

Essie Davis gives the performance of the year as an exhausted and emotionally damaged single mother struggling to cope with the brutal death of her husband. Amelia’s transition from a seemingly stable woman to a disturbing, out-of-control wreck is bone-chilling.

Equally as good is Davis’ young co-star, Noah Wiseman. Wiseman’s Samuel is an odd little bugger who’ll do anything to protect his mother, including building violent and inimical weapons intended to take out the most frightening intruders. The last time we saw child acting of this calibre was from Kodi Smit-McPhee in Richard Roxburgh’s Romulus, My Father.

While most Aussie features take themselves too seriously there’s a lot of fun and genuine scares to be had with The Babadook. Kent and her crew have created a classic Australian horror film and one of the only ones worthy of a sequel.

The Babadook: 5/5
Directed by: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Essie Davis, Benjamin Winspear, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman
Review by: Matthew Eeles








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