The closing night film from this year’s Toronto After Dark festival is by far the creepiest effort from this year’s fest, the Australian wonder that is blazing through the festival circuit garnering awards and acclaim. The Babadook stars Essie Davis as Amelia, the mother of a rambunctious and unruly child Samuel (Noah Wiseman). While reading a story to him one night the book, entitled Mister Babadook, takes a viscous and violent turn that threatens mom and child with a visit from the irrepressible Babadook. After attempts to discard the book prove futile the Babadook lives up to his word, sending Amelia and Samuel’s lives swirling into a turmoil.
Writer/Director Jennifer Kent has crafted a unique and truly frightening tale with her feature length directorial debut, and she gets the most of out her actors as well. Essie Davis is excellent as the long suffering Amelia and so is young Noah Wiseman as the young hell spawn known as Samuel. Kent takes the audience through a range of emotions surrounding Samuel, the beginning of the film will have audiences wanting to throttle him but by the end he is the one character we really root for. It’s the smartly written and executed reversal of roles that occurs through the film that helps drive the picture’s more intense and gut wrenching sequences. The Babadook himself carries a almost cartoony look to him, playing in nicely to his picture book origins.
Some may be disappointed by ending of the film, but the ride to get there is fantastic. The Babadook is one of the most purely satisfying pieces of horror audiences will get in 2014, its premise is brilliant, the acting is great and the set decoration is top notch. This is a film that deserves to be sought out.