THE BABADOOK (4K REVIEW)
Dir. Jennifer Kent
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Since it's release in 2014, THE BABADOOK has left shockwaves that still ripple. Not only was the film a major success, for some unbeknown reason, even it's titular star has become a symbol of Pride. Now we have a special edition release of the movie in 4K.
After the death of her husband in a car accident occurring on the way to the hospital to birth their son, Amelia (Essie Davis) finds it difficult to adjust to normal life bringing up Samuel (Noel Wiseman) and holding down a job by herself. The strain of her repetitious life and monster obsessed son has not only drawn her further away from her sister but from society as a whole. But when Samuels worries of the monster in his book take form, is it Amelia's fatigue or are more sinister events beginning to occur?
Essie Davis is phenomenal as the mentally battered Amelia whose life just rolls from bad to worse. Her pain and agony at the disobedient Samuel comes across so natural that even when she raises a knife to the youngster it feels so right. Whether she is trudging through her day job at a care home or dormantly cuddling her dog, there is so much emotion spewed from Davis that it’s hard to not sympathise with her parenting skills. Even at his worst, Wiseman, is a child actor to look out for and when we say worst, we mean disobedient. The death of his father has left a lasting impact on a family that 7 years later still lingers on.
This is something central to the interpretation of the story. Surrounded with ambiguity there is no clear cut answer to what is happening but clearly has two alternative interpretations, either the Babadook is real, or not. Either way, the essence of the creature, despite Samuels screams, is “let in” and causes even more turmoil to a desperate family on the edge.
Not only has writer/director Jennifer Kent created a monster, but one that will stay in your head for some time to come. Helped along by a brilliantly unsettling score and rattling noises that will get right under your skin.
The only let down with the movie is the appearance of the Babadook itself. The build up to his being is near perfection and the book itself is the creepiest prop we’ve seen in the genre to date, but somehow the transition from sketch to reality there’s something lost in translation. Wherein the build-up and challenge between psyche and psycho for Amelia blurs the line between reality and fiction the appearance of the Babadook is a dull apparition of a man in a hat or a number of other guises that don’t quite add up to the expectation or creepiness of the books images.
That aside, THE BABADOOK is an unnerving tale of depression and depravity that sees a mother and son get over their deepest fears through the creature that terrifies them most. Working as a metaphor for the moving on from her husband’s death, the events are never truly satisfied leaving the sights on screen questionable, a pivot that works well and leaves the film open to debate for a long time to come. Despite its supernatural mask, Kent's film is a masterfully grounded horror piece that is a must watch.
A special edition of the film comes with a 150 page compendium featuring new essay's and archived interviews with Jennifer Kent accompanying the dozens of interviews and features house with the movie itself make this an essential package for any horror fan.