Jennifer Kent directs Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman and Daniel Henshall in this psychological horror where a widowed mother struggles with a son who believes in a children’s book monster.
A very dense, unrelenting 90 minutes. Essie Davis is superb as the mother at the end of her tether. You feel the oppression of her situation and align yourself with her so closely (that illicit ice-cream break is appreciated by everyone) that when things twist away from us unexpectedly it is wrenching. The horror is handled deftly, well designed and achieved. The weight of the threat and creep strain us. One moment that caught me by surprise, chiggered under my skin, was a time lapse shot capturing Davis’ restless R.E.M. in almost alien close-up. And Noah Wiseman’s hyper kid is perfect as both innocent victim and insanity inducing hellion. I never want kids. Thank fuck I don’t have kids. Kent conjures up an impressive adult experience but also one that is inherently grim and misery inducing. I cannot fault The Babadook as an artistic achievement but doubt I would want to revisit its exhausting emotional grinder again anytime soon. A modern day Repulsion.