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11/4/14

THE BABADOOK - REVIEW


Good news, everyone!

Mel Gibson is no longer the scariest thing to come out of Australia!

This Halloween, the likes of Ouija and Annabelle may have competed for the box-office top spot but it's likely to be off-beat Australian entry The Babadook we'll remember long after as it's very likely to become a cult hit and inevitably should spawn several sequels.

Also, its silly title is pretty unforgettable not to mention a lot of fun to say out loud.

The movie sees a super stressed-out and frankly worn-out mother (played by Essie Davis) attempt to take care of her hyper, trouble-making young son several years after her husband died in a car accident. Her misery does nothing but increase like crazy throughout the movie as her so-called friends fail to support her emotionally, shunning her and her son, the boy's school comes down on him unfairly and insensitively, plus there's the small matter of a creepy children's book called The Babadook which freaks the kid out to the point of becoming the source of much terror.

To be fair, that book's pretty messed-up.

The son, played by an impressive Noah Wiseman, starts to believe in the existence of some monster known as Mr Babadook and this obsession only serves to bring his mother to boiling point as, in the film's intense last half hour, she really loses it and becomes a real danger for the child (and... the dog). The main question we ask ourselves, of course, is whether this "Babadook" is real or just a fragment of her child's vivid imagination or even a hallucination brought on by her own insomnia. The film will definitely keep you on edge the entire time as every word, every action, every sound is carefully crafted to be as unsettling and uncomfortable as possible. After an hour of watching this woman suffer in various ways, you'll be suffering too and the mixed emotions you'll have for both these main characters will only stress you out more making the sudden arrival of the titular monster that much more unpleasant.

Though The Babadook most definitely has its scary moments, the film doesn't really go for cheap thrills instead focusing on being a character study that just happens to be incredibly dark. The brilliant performances and the film's (not to mention its fictional book) visual style elevates it from being just another typical boogeyman horror flick to something a bit more substantial. The ending may lack some much needed full-on scares but this is one film which, thanks mostly to its spot-on build-up and unique imagery, should stay with you for quite a while.

While it could have easily been much scarier and that Mr Babadook is arguably not seen enough in the flick, it remains one of the best horror movies in recent years and I, for one, would welcome a re-watch down the line, even follow-ups.

Take note, Hollywood horror flicks.

This is how it's Ba-ba-done.

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