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The Babadook 

Jennifer Kent debuts with one of the most psychologically complex thrillers in years

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The Babadook
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In most horror movies, the creepy early scenes are all about building up to the moment when we finally see the monster. In writer/director Jennifer Kent's magnificent debut feature The Babadook, we realize that we've been watching the monster all along.

It's the story of Amelia (Essie Davis), a widowed Australian nurse who has raised her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), alone for the seven years since her husband died in a car crash on the way to the hospital for Samuel's delivery. Samuel's anxieties and emotional problems keep Amelia perpetually on edge and sleepless, but things get even worse when a mysterious picture book appears introducing a shadowy figure called Mister Babadook.

Purely as a piece of filmmaking, The Babadook announces Kent as a spectacular new talent. Her compositions are icily precise, like a shot that shows Amelia clinging to the far side of the bed Samuel constantly invades, or the dark empty spaces surrounding Amelia during her insomniac episodes. From the sound design to the chilling construction of the Mister Babadook book itself, it's a work that nails every technical component a genre film needs.

Yet The Babadook is also one of the most psychologically complex thrillers in years, anchored by a performance by Davis that is simply the best lead female role in any movie of 2014. The film's titular menace becomes a physical manifestation of all the demons that haunt Amelia: unprocessed grief; seeing in her son part of the responsibility for her husband's death; the sheer exhaustion of dealing with a special-needs child; the guilt at relishing every moment away from that child. Through every truly terrifying moment in The Babadook, there's an even scarier subtext: It's not possible to find the happy ending by killing the monster, when the monster is really the stuff that's inside you.


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The Babadook
Rated NR · 93 minutes · 2014
Director: Jennifer Kent
Producer: Kristina Ceyton, Kristian Moliere, Jan Chapman, Jeff Harrison, Jonathan Page and Michael Tear
Cast: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, Cathy Adamek, Benjamin Winspear and Craig Behenna
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What others are saying (7)

Creative Loafing Atlanta ‘The Babadook’ and ‘Wild’ show women facing down extreme situations Two new films show women taking on inner demons by Curt Holman 12/11/2014
Chicago Reader The real monster in The Babadook is all in your mind A storybook creature creeps from the pages into real life—or does it? by Drew Hunt 12/17/2014
Inlander The One Who Knocks Why an Australian indie called The Babadook became one of 2014's creepiest films by Marjorie Baumgarten 12/17/2014
4 more reviews...
Portland Mercury You'll See Him if You Look The Babadook is this year's creepiest (and smartest!) horror movie. by Courtney Ferguson 12/17/2014
Charleston City Paper You won't find the celebrated Boyhood on this list of 2014's best A calendar year is as arbitrary a way to recognize greatness as a numbered list is, especially in an era when so many people see movies in places other than theaters and in years other than the year of their release. by Scott Renshaw 12/31/2014
Indy Week Film review: A terrifying pop-up book comes to life in The Babadook The Australian film depicts the horrors of daily domestic life, says Kathy Justice by Kathy Justice 12/10/2014
NUVO Indy Film Talk: 'The Babadook' at IU Cinema "The Babadook" is coming to IU Cinema this weekend to scare the hell out of you — as it did the director of "The Exorcist." by Sam Watermeier 01/22/2015

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