The Babadook

The Babadook ★★★½


Way, way too thematically blunt to be frightening—it's the inexplicable that terrifies me, and this film practically writes its own doctoral thesis, "Festering Grief And Post-Traumatic Transference As Id Monster In Contemporary Australian Horror." Which is a shame, because Kent demonstrates a keen understanding of how to wreak havoc via unsettling compositions and jarring cuts (nearly applauded when the shot of Sam standing atop the swingset was followed by a quick shot of mom and her sister rising in alarm and then a smash cut to Sam wailing out of focus in the back seat of the car), and her two lead actors are both deliriously unhinged. Had all this awesomeness been expended on something residing just beyond rational comprehension, odds are I would have crawled underneath my bed and not emerged for weeks. Instead, the film keeps defanging the titular bogeyman by explaining itself, as if Simon Oakland's shrink had written and directed Psycho. Once Kent learns how to bury her subtext, though, look the fuck out.

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