At last, a genuinely creepy horror film; an unmistakable treat for fright-fans that gives hope for the genre's future.
A surprise hit with horror fans across the globe, Jennifer Kent’s Aussie-born creature feature ended 2014 on a rather large number of Best of the Year lists, and deservedly so. Kent’s debut feature chronicles the ever-growing struggles of Amelia, a depressive single mother who still mourns the untimely death of her husband, whilst attempting to raise her hellish young son Samuel. The fear factor comes in the form of the mysterious titular monster The Babadook, an unnerving hand-drawn, top-hat wearing menace who plagues the family home and eventually, Amelia’s own mind too.
Although it may initially sound like The Babadook has more in common with a “kitchen-sink”-style domestic drama in its substance, the film’s chilling style is the factor which in the end, truly dominates. For a first timer, Kent builds tension like a seasoned pro and this, twinned with her creepy character designs and a foreboding sense of dread throughout helps her to deliver a modern chiller which is, in all honesty, really quite terrifying. Pack this all together with some well-placed twists and a gently ambiguous tone and what remains is an unexpected treat: a horror movie that’s actually scary.
With the likes of this and other celebrated fan-favourites such as You’re Next, The Guest and most recently, It Follows making it onto screens in the past few years, it feels almost as if Kent’s Babadook is leading the charge in resurrecting the otherwise critically-abhorred horror genre. If this second-wind continues, we can hopefully look forward to even more contemporary treats from this new generation of fright-fans, so supporting The Babadook and its compatriots seems a must.
The Babadook (2014), directed by Jennifer Kent, is released in the UK on DVD & Blu-Ray by Icon Film Distribution, Certificate 15.