So many horror films trade depth for a thrill. The Babadook has both. It dispenses with cheap scares and draws tension from a slowly enveloping dread. And when you think you know where it’s going, that’s when it goes in for the kill.
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Its horrors go beyond any single raggedy phantom, reaching back to the primordial fear of death and loss: of a child, of a loved one, of one's own sense of self.
No male director would have put so much as a toe inside this trouble zone, although Kent does borrow a helpful domestic hint from “Shaun of the Dead”: rather than vanquish our worst nightmare, why not tame it, lock it away, and hope?
Kent and editor Simon Njoo show maturity and trust in their material, expertly building tension through the insidious modulation from naturalistic dysfunctional family drama to all-out boogeyman terror.
On purely formal grounds (the ones on which the genre lives or dies), Kent is a natural. She favors crisp compositions and unfussy editing, transforming the banal house itself into a subtle, shadowy threat.
One of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years — with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade.
The Babadook is a smart, respectful horror that puts character and emotional issues first, yet never at the cost of a delightful and haunting fright.
Manages to pop the hairs on the back of your neck more than most repetitive, predictable and gory Hollywood horror films these days.
This meticulously designed and directed debut feature from writer-director Jennifer Kent (expanded from her award-winning short, “Monster”) manages to deliver real, seat-grabbing jolts while also touching on more serious themes of loss, grief and other demons that can not be so easily vanquished.