Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Russ Fischer
One of the most popular films at Sundance this year has been the Australian horror picture The Babadook. Not necessarily in the sense that everyone here has seen it, but I haven’t spoken to anyone who didn’t like the film, and most people seem to be as big a fan of it as I was. (Read my review here.)
The Babadook follows a young widow and her son, and looks in on the pair as the boy is starting to have some serious psychological issues. Those problems are complicated by the discovery of a mysterious storybook in their house — a book which seems to threaten violence and horror for the family. Check out a trailer below.
Essie Davis, as the mother, gives an insanely intense performance, which is matched note for note by Noah Wiseman, as her troubled son. And as I said in the review linked above, the film works in large part because it really would be just as effective without any supernatural touches. The script is well-constructed around a couple big themes that it never abandons or undermines, and the performances and direction push the film into the realm of Roman Polanski’s psychological thrillers. (It isn’t as accomplished as Polanski’s films, but that isn’t a complaint — few films are. The tone and approach are often similar, however.)
The Babadook has not been picked up as of yet, but I’d expect a sale before Sundance ends.
Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control, he becomes more unpredictable and violent. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour, is forced to medicate him. But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.