“The Babadook” redefines horror films with its simplistic scares and hauntingly beautiful storytelling


“The Babadook” was released in limited theaters after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. It features a mother and son, Essie Davis and Noah Weisman, as they battle the monster in their house as well in their minds. The unique psychological thriller is currently streaming on Netflix.

Receiving praise at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, “The Babadook” has taken the horror genre somewhere deeper into exploring the corners of the human mind. Not only does the Australian film have elements of a classic creature feature, like suspense and a boogie man type character, but it deals with themes of grief and deep-seated psychological issues.

The film follows a single mother, Amelia, as she tries to cope with her troubled son, Sam, and the seven year anniversary of her husband’s death. As Sam’s tantrums escalate, Amelia realizes they may be the result of a morbid children’s book, “Mister Babadook,” that mysteriously appeared on their door step. Over the course of two weeks, Sam is not only on edge at their house, but also around his mother, who steadily loses her grip on reality.

Not only are the scares real, but so are the emotions that radiate from Essie Davis who played Amelia, and Noah Wiseman who played Sam. While the Babadook creature itself delivers scares left and right, it’s the fear of losing a child or parent that drives the terror behind it. Amelia and Sam’s different perspectives are what makes this film so mature in its execution.

As the film delved into its motifs of family, grief and loneliness, it never lost its creep factor. The simple design of the Babadook monster was unsettling perfection. Although the creature’s top hat, cloak-like body and freakishly long fingers may seem corny; it was everything but. The fact that anyone can conjure this creature up in their mind makes it haunting and all the more real.

I give “The Babadook” the highest A possible. The director, Jennifer Kent, has basically created a new genre of film, with it’s blend of the supernatural scares and the chaos of parenthood. While there were slight twists and turns, the ending was unpredictable and satisfying, reminding us that evil can never disappear entirely.