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Six-years-old Sam (Noah Wiseman) has become increasingly erratic. He can’t sleep. He frightens the other children at school. He’s obsessed with a monster and builds machines and traps to defeat it. His mother, Amelia, (Essie Davis) is doing everything she can, but she’s been alone since the day he was born–her husband died in a car accident whilst taking her to hospital to deliver their son.
Not long before his seventh birthday, Sam spies a book he’s never seen before and requests it as his bedtime story. It’s a pop-up book called Mister Babadook.
After reading the story the figure of the Babadook begins to appear to Sam whose behaviour becomes even more disturbing and dangerous. (Writer/director Jennifer Kent gets an incredible performance out of this child.)
Amelia, her own sanity reaching a breaking point, tears the book to pieces and throws it away. But, as all possessed items do, it returns of its own accord.
After setting it alight, she goes to the police station to ask for help, but they don’t have an X-Files department in Australia, I suppose, so things just go from bad to worse.
At first watch, The Babadook appears to be a re-hash of several horror films. A little The Omen here, a smidgen Poltergeist there with a dash of The Exorcist. Then there’s an almost Home Alone bit. Just because.
My friends were raving about it and, in general, my friends have pretty good taste in films so I was perplexed. Then I read this (very spoilery) article and suddenly it made sense. It was really well-done. My friends weren’t having me on my metaphor sensors were just off.
As mentioned, the child actor was incredible, but Essie Davis as the widowed mother trying to deal with her own grief and the grief of her child was mind-blowing. The creepiness factor was through the roof. Kudos to everyone involved. This is a good one, folks. 5/5
If you’re already a fan, they’re making a copy of the book , which is being produced by Insight Editions. I have their pop up book for the world of Harry Potter and it’s impressive. And the information on the Babadook book is hilarious–even if you don’t plan on ordering it I recommend reading the page in the link above.