Dramatic Reviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
I must start this review by saying I've never been more scared to walk through my house at night after watching a horror movie. I actually saw this by way of VoD and I'm glad I did because if I were in the theater I wouldn't have been able to eliminate every shadow by flipping the light switch. I have so much respect for Jennifer Kent as a screenwriter and director for allowing me to feel this sort of discomfort caused by a great film.
This narrative isn't very complicated at all because clearly Jennifer Kent didn't want it to be. The only thing she was obliged to do was tell a story that made sense and simultaneously petrify its audience. She executes that beautifully in the form of a pop-up storybook. A pop-up storybook!!! Most horror films stick to the boring old jump scares or lean on sound effects cliché that only instill minimal fear. The Babadook has some sound effects but where it's best is the way it milks it's low budget with practical effects and uses simple filmmaking tactics and good editing to separate itself from mediocrity.
The two leads are what make this movie what it is. The young actor by the name of Noah Wiseman has a rare horror movie aura about him that reminds me of The shining Twins. He is so good at being unbearable it's not hard to say this kid may be a nuisance off camera. I have to add that this movie doesn't work without Essie Davis portraying this distressed mother that has melancholy written across her forehead. She has a certain darkness to her especially with some of the scenes where she changes her voice to deliver certain lines. The chemistry between these relatively unknowns is beyond me.
Having the fear of what may be hiding in the shadows of your house, under the bed, and/or the closet that comes directly from a movie is the best kind to have. Your imagination is working both for and against you at the same time. That experience alone is what identifies The Babadook as a great horror flick that I'm going to reluctantly revisit on date nights.