THE BABADOOK | THE REVIEW

The BABADOOK is an Australian Horror Film and for the love of Thor do not let the words “Australian” and “Film” in the same sentence distract you from seeing this film because it is a film of greatness. Easily makes my top five Australian Horror films of all time and would probably make my top 20 Australian films of all time, put it this way, it has had 22 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and is sitting on 100%. It is a pant pooping work of art that has been made with extreme skill, care, attention to detail and an original story. THE BABADOOK is out now at selected cinemas you can locate HERE, it is rated M and runs for 92mins. The film is brought to us by UMBRELLA ENTERTAINMENT and you can suss out the film’s official page HERE.

 

THE BABADOOK POSTER IMAGE
THE BABADOOK | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | THE MOVIE POSTER

 

In the vein of The Ring, Dark Water or The Grudge, the film is a haunted house/ book story with a twist. The Babadook appears from a book, a book that Samuel (Noah Wiseman) discovers in his bookshelf. The book warns that you can never get rid of the Babadook and the more you try the worst it will get. And so begins a psychological destruction for both Samuel, his mum Amelia (Essie Davis) and their poor puppy dog. The Babadook enters one of the people in the house and things go from bad to worse to diabolical. It does not help that Samuel’s father/ Amelia’s (Davis) husband is dead through tragedy and that Sam is quite unusual to the point of being freaky and out of school with DOCs close on their heels wondering why.

 

THE BABADOOK IMAGE
THE BABADOOK | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | AMELIA (DAVIS) READ TO SAMUEL (WISEMAN) FROM THE BABADOOK

 

The story is quite simple in the telling, evil book, scary house, traumatise the shit out of everyone on and offscreen and endeavour to banish said evil mofo. But what works so well with this film is that first time feature director Jennifer Kent wrote a damn fine and well thought out story. Basic but clever, not cliched, not stupid and psychologically messy with two leads you love, you empathise with and you would go out of your way to help these two characters as much as their old neighbour, Mrs Roach (Barbera West) does. As opposed to a lot of the Hollywood horror of late, you actually care for the characters and do not wish to join the evil mofo in despatching them from the living.

But the A GRADE win of this film is the cast. It is flawless, I mean – please hand over the AFIs now, no one else can have them. And yes the 8yr (I am guessing his age) old Noah Wiseman wins for best male actor. He is just marvelous. Cute, funny at times, creepy at others, scary sometimes but lovable and the underdog, the kid who brings forth some mild themes of individuality and bullying, a kid that so much wants to be like everyone else but through circumstance has little chance. And as for kahunas, how many 8yr olds have you seen in a horror film building weapons to destroy an evil mofo to keep his mum safe? it choked me up.

 

THE BABADOOK SAMUEL IMAGE
THE BABADOOK | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | SAMUEL (NOAH WISEMAN) IN MAGICIAN’S COSTUME

 

Then we go to the next level of acting, Essie Davis, from this role she just launched up my favourite actors list. She is amazing and so believable in this film. It is this talent from her years of acting that make this film so strong and powerful. Her portrayal of the tortured mum Amelia is so subtle and internalised that at times she will break your heart and at others you will think she is channeling Jack Torrance from The Overlook Hotel. My mum hates horror films, they scare her and she sees no need to watch them. If I mention the film I am about put on (when they are staying with me) is a horror she asks to watch something else. But at the same time she loves Essie Davis, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is one of her all time favourite TV shows, if it is playing on those same visits when the parents are staying with me I lose control of the remote and am nearly banished from my own house until it is finished (although I admit to watching it now myself :)). I pass on thanks to Essie because I think she will get my mum to watch a horror film with this one.

 

THE BABADOOK ESSIE DAVIS IMAGE
THE BABADOOK | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | AMELIA (ESSIE DAVIS)

 

The costumes by Heather Wallace (Samson and Delilah, THE TURNING) are simple and perfect for the story and the art direction by Karen Hannaford (lots of work as a set dresser but this is her first big gig) and Alex Holmes (NEWCASTLE, Lockie Leonard) is chilling and contrasted well from the brightness of anywhere but the house to the darkness and old unwealthy furnishings of the house. It is designed universally, not overly Australian, and this will appeal to the U.S. audiences as it is quite U.S. in it’s styling. Add to this design and execution of the Babadook itself is chilling and well done. It is not in your face, it is in the shadows, where it and all the other scary things belong. He is freaking creepy and can join the other horror monster greats now of Scarecrow, Jason, Michael Myers, Freddie and the rest. He will be in great company, but I will drop a bomb – don’t mess with a mother protecting her child because you will face the greatest horror ever :).

And I need to mention the cinematography, it is superb and another win for the film. Just found out it was Radoslaw Ladczuk, a Polish cinematographer that made one of my favourite films from a few years back, THE SUICIDE ROOM. He has a huge CV and it is not only an honor to have him as the cinematographer but also amazing we got him in Australia. I bow to him for Suicide Room alone but his camera work added to the sheer creepiness of the film.

 

THE BABADOOK IMAGE
THE BABADOOK | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | AMELIA (DAVIS) AND SAMUEL (WISEMAN)

 

OK – it is not perfect, but damn close. One thing I noticed was it dragged a bit in the middle – you know (kind of) what will happen at the end, but it takes its time getting there. And it then has a couple of endings where you are wondering when it will actually end. But at the very end it made sense but I just found that the pace hiccuped slightly and for a moment there I checked my watch.

But this only slightly lowered my score. Put it this way, this will join the JK Blu Ray collection when it releases and I will search out films by Jennifer Kent now when they start coming and I will watch anything with Essie Davis in it. As for Noah Wiseman, I look forward to seeing him in more stuff, great kid actor. I should point out, there is some pretty horrific stuff that appears to happen in front of or said to Samuel – this doesn’t actually happen, I heard Davis on the radio a week or two ago, most of these scenes are just Davis to camera, she never really tells him how much she really wants to “fucking kill him” or anything like that hahahaha.

Go and see this film and don’t see to just support the Australian Film Industry, see it because it is bloody awesome!!

 

JK POP SCORE:

4 Pops

KERNEL ANDREW’S POP SCORE:

4 Pops