A single mother and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when an eerie children's book titled "Mister Babadook" manifests in their home.A single mother and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when an eerie children's book titled "Mister Babadook" manifests in their home.A single mother and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when an eerie children's book titled "Mister Babadook" manifests in their home.
Director Jennifer Kent understands what most horror filmmakers fail to grasp: that our biggest fear isn't of crazy killers or monsters or ghosts, but of ourselves—what lives inside us, the emotions we have to live with, the illusory veil of self-control.
The plot revolves around a mum, her troubled son and the book he pulls off the shelf one night. But you already know too much. This is one film where knowing less going into it will really pay dividends. Really, don't even watch the trailer.
Just know that the storytelling and craft are flawless. Essie Davis delivers one of the most challenging performances put to screen with total commitment and credibility. Kent's storytelling is utterly absorbing and she so delicately treads the line between what's real and what's not that you can never be sure of yourself.
What you make of "The Babadook" will depend on who you are. You might take it at face value, as a creepy monster flick with all the constant threat and looming dread and shocking moments. You might take it as an attempt to capture the authentic experience of mental illness. You might take it as a symbolic story using a metaphor for grief and loss. The best films make you feel something and allow you the room to make sense of it yourself.
Personally, I thought about this film for days after seeing it, both because of its ambiguity and because of the themes it explores, namely mental illness and domestic violence. Yes, it's scary. But it's also touching and heartbreaking. While "The Babadook" belongs alongside other great psychological horror films, like "The Innocents" and "The Haunting" (1963), to classify it purely as "horror" really belittles its accomplishment as a film that challenges us to examine and discuss issues we are very uncomfortable tackling in reality.
- Aug 29, 2015