The Babadook is masterpiece. There, we said it. ‘Pull-quote baiting hyperbole,’ we here you cry, but we honestly mean it.
Directed and written by Jennifer Kent, The Bababdook focuses on a widowed mother, Amelia (Essie Davis), and her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Sam is a troubled soul who is need of constant attention from Amelia. He fears the monsters who live under his bed and closet, constructing gadgets to ward off the evil creatures. To Amelia and us, they are simply products of an overactive imagination. Amelia, meanwhile, struggles from horrifically losing her husband in a car accident. She daydreams through life, moving from home to work to home again. When Sam is removed from his school, Amelia struggles to cope with his demands and in an effort to appease him one night, she allows him to choose a book for bedtime. He chooses The Babadook, a pop-up book that warns of a creature that stalks the night. Once you know of its existence, it refuses to go away. And from there things, as to be expected, go awry.
Kent’s film is a beautifully played ghost story that in part is also a gut-wrenching allegory about loss and depression. Essie Davis gives a nuanced performance that believably intensifies as The Babadook seeks to take control of their lives. In her hands, Amelia is fragile, not because movie conventions dictate that women must be so when they face the boogedyman, but because her life has made her so. She is someone very close to the edge and the slightest wind will push her into the abyss.
The Babadook didn’t get the greatest of releases in Australia so it’s good to see the response it’s getting outside of its home country. Halloween might have gone for the year, but there is no excuse not to see this great piece of art. Simply fantastic.