Even for the occasional horror fan, The Babadook feels far too full of the usual clichés: a troubled child, a distressed (bereaved) mother and – what’s that? A haunted house? Writer and director Jennifer Kent deserves credit then for treating such clichés with a subtle and compassionate touch.
Essie Davis is fantastic as struggling mother Amelia while young Noah Wiseman grows from being straight-up annoying in the first half to a convincingly mature performance in the second.
Meanwhile the brilliant sound design maintains a tense atmosphere against a wave of jaw-droppingly obvious ‘plot twists’ – surely a cardinal sin in horror.
Kent is smart to keep the deliciously charismatic Babadook as her trump card but the result is a story that never quite reaches the emotional complexity it aims for.
CAST: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Kent
WRITERS: Jennifer Kent
SYNOPSIS: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.