Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: THE BABADOOK

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

This horror feature debut from writer/director Jennifer Kent went on to win several Fantastic Fest awards. In the Horror Feature category, the movie won Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Acting awards for stars Noah Wiseman and Essie Davis.  As for my take on the film, I must say that it is a thrilling and suspenseful tale, but one I didn’t particularly find all that scary.  I do agree, however, that the acting accolades are well deserved.

Davis and Wiseman star as mother and son, Amelia and Sam.  Still mourning the tragic death of her husband, Amelia has her hands full with Sam, a child troubled with behavioral problems.  These issues not only complicate matters for Sam at school, but adds stress to Amelia’s already depressed life.  To make matters worse, Sam becomes obsessed with a fictional bogeyman known as the Babadook.  As Sam believes the Babadook is haunting their home, Amelia believes that Sam may need some professional help.  Amelia begins to question her own sanity as she witnesses some disturbing, possibly supernatural occurrences taking place in her home.

Kent’s writing and direction does succeed in creating a dark tone and her film certainly kept me on the edge of my seat as I desired to discover the truth behind the Babadook.  Maybe I have already seen too many horror movies, but I didn’t find Kent’s bogeyman and his terrorizing of Amelia and Sam all that scary.  Granted, this is one of those scenarios that if they were actually taking place in real life and I were experiencing them first hand, I’d be frightened beyond belief.  On the big screen, however, it just didn’t work for me.  The solid development of the characters and their situations actually do work and made me empathize with what is happening to them.  The Babadook may not be an outstanding horror movie in my opinion, but it is a definitely an intriguing film that I would recommend watching.

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