The Babadook is one confounding movie. Did it aim to be a horror flick? Or did it aim to pack its perspectives on real-life issues into 93 minutes?

It all starts with a haunted storybook.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a widowed nurse who works at an elderly nursing home. Her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) has frequent outbursts and fits of violence, hallucinating about a monster that he says visits his room at night.


After Amelia reads a storybook titled Mister Babadook, Samuel’s hallucinations are aggravated. Without a father figure, he becomes more irrational and desperate.

Strange things begin to happen at home from glass sharps in the soup to visions of a tall figure appearing. And like every other supernatural object in film history (read: Death Note), the book remains intact despite attempts to detstroy it.

The cherubic Wiseman, who makes his big-screen debut, would have benefited from a less clichéd dialogue. His jaded, outspoken character is at odds with his childish, textbook speech.


Without really giving the plot away, the movie centers on the family’s past, especially of the late father.

Director Jessie Kent manages to create a tense and terrifying atmosphere with a combination of close-up shots and muted dialogue. Silence can be deafening (and deadly) here, especially in simple scenes of Samuel hanging up the keys, or tying his laces. There’s a certain menace present.

Kent also used color to emphasize changes in mood. Scenes with Amelia and Samuel are blue-toned and filmed in minimal lighting while scenes with other characters, like the high-society mums and their daughters, have vivid colors and bright lighting.


The ending didn’t have to be dragged out like a beaten horse because just when you think the film is going to end, it continues. In fact, this writer was puzzled at the anti-climactic ending.

The Babadook explored parenting issues, children welfare in schools and finding closure after a loved one’s death while providing audiences with remarkable jump scares and bone-chilling violence. Viewers might be compelled to think of it as a story about how a broken family has to deal with society’s opinions and get through life together. The film would have fared better, if it had focused on a singular aim.

Rating: 3/5

Release Date: September 25

Runtime: 1 hour 33 minutes

Language: English

Censorship Rating: NC16

Genre: Horror, thriller

Cast: Essie Davis, Benjamin Winspear, Noah Wiseman, Tim Purcell

Direction and screenplay: Jessie Kent