The Babadook is the story of a single mother and her child who fall into a deep well of paranoia when an eerie children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” manifests in their home.
When I watched the Babadook as a young horror enthusiast, I was instantly gripped with the childhood fear of monsters in the closet and under the bed when watching the movie. The child is trying to find some measure of safety in a world where he feels entirely unsafe, and he wants to protect his mother and himself from anything that might threaten them. The mom meanwhile, is struggling mentally with PTSD and other issues due to trauma in her past, and at the same time she is fighting to raise a child who is difficult. I felt a slow building atmospheric horror while watching her apparent decent into madness and greatly enjoyed the psychological aspects of the movie. The design for the monster itself was genius, and I loved the classical feel to his attire and scare tactics which reminded me of the old silent movies I am addicted to which wanted to capture style over complexity.
The stroke of genius for me was the eerie yet artistic way the Babadook book was drawn, and the way the child was the only one who believed that this creature existed in their home. The Babadook book gives me Tim Burton vibes!
The Babadook is thrilling and chilling and a masterpiece that any horror movie viewer must watch. What it lacks in gore, it makes up in the spiraling descent into madness that is portrayed by a truly gifted cast. It is one of my favorite horror movies, and it sits firmly in my top ten list of psychological thrillers that I watch when I am in the mood for a good scare!
About the Director:
The Babadook is a 2014 Australian psychological horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent in her feature directorial debut, the film was based on her 2005 short film Monster. Kent began writing the screenplay in 2009, intending to explore parenting, grief, and the fear of madness. As a female horror film director, she was a true trailblazer with the success of this film and paved the way for other female horror creatives to truly shine. She is one of my personal role models.
The design for the Babadook was inspired by the 1927 feature London After Midnight character The Man in the Beaver Hat. This film is one of the most coveted lost films in history as the last copy of it was burned in a fire in 1965. There is something inherently terrifying and Jack the Ripper-ish in the designs of both The Man in the Beaver Hat and in The Babadook.
The Babadook premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 17 January 2014. The film received universal acclaim, with particular praise for the performances of the cast, creature design, premise, and themes. At the 4th AACTA Awards, it won for Best Film, and Kent won for Best Direction and Best Original Screenplay, respectively. In the years since its release, The Babadook has become a cult classic.