Within the first 10 minutes the mood for the film is set, it is tense and eerie throughout and while there is the occasional jump scare, the majority of the scares come from the tension and the creepy atmosphere which is lacking in a lot of modern horror films. Add that to the fact that ‘The Babadook’ manages to keep you tense and expecting the worst throughout the film it never became tiresome as the film came up with a variety of different ways to build the tension even further and further as the film progressed.
‘The Babadook’ is shot beautifully, not only is the cinematography shockingly gorgeous for a horror film, but it’s the little touches like a subtle long shot, a tilt shift effect on the lense at certain points or even the actual layout of the shots, a lot of very unique and visually impressive shots are used and it really helps the film stand out.
Essie Davis as Amelia is probably the best performance I have seen in a horror film ever. The complexity of the character, combined with an interesting script really allow Davis to not only make her role convincing but allows her to become a fully fleshed out, genuine character which is rare in not only modern horror films but unfortunately in a lot of modern films in general. Noah Wiseman plays Sam, Amelia’s six year old son and while the performance often meanders the line between very good and hammy, which is still the best you can expect from an actor as young as Wiseman, his voice really grated on me and with his incessant screaming of “MUMMY!”, I grew to loathe the character. That however, could entirely be intentional on the part of the director because it allows you to see how much of a handful Sam is and helps establish a connection between the viewer and Amelia.
The plot of the film is something we have seen a million times before, but spiced up with some Babadook twists and while the plot did feel fairly generic overall, the tension that the film created doesn’t allow you to dwell too much on the storytelling merits of the film and instead immersed you into a tense trance, not wanting to look, but not wanting to miss a thing, the film is truly mesmerising.
The mythos surrounding the Babadook and how that story is told was interesting and very creative. The minimal times that the Babadook actually appeared on screen were truly scary and the actual effects for it looked great, especially considering it is a low budget film.
There were plot points that seemed like they were important and leading to something but at around the halfway point, almost all of those plots were severed and the rest of the film focused, almost entirely, on Amelia and Sam. The fact that these plot points were abandoned though made it feel very real, like everyone was living a normal life with their relationships and responsibilities and then this darkness took presence in Amelia and Sam’s home effectively locking them away from the outside world for the most part. I am still unsure if it bothers me that the film did spend so much time on particular side characters that had no relevance to the overall plot or not, but it was an interesting idea to say the least.
‘The Babadook’ is a scary and very well made film with some minor scrapes throughout but it is definitely worth a watch, but remember, once you let the Babadook in, you won’t be able to get rid of him.