The Babadook ★★★★

Perhaps not as conventionally "scary" as I had been expecting, but 100 times more harrowing and disturbing.

Striking a note of genuine unease and discomfort in the viewer from the very beginning that doesn't let up even after the closing credits have started to run, THE BABADOOK is about the monster from a disturbing children's pop-up book that somehow leaves the pages of the book and violently haunts a psychologically disturbed single mother named Amelia (Essie Davis) and her troubled, young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman).

What makes the film so disturbing is not the shadowy monster, but what the monster represents: the dark cycle of repressed rage and guilt that Amelia feels in Samuel's presence because she is unable to stop blaming him for his father's death. In fact, the film thrives on the kind of creepy ambiguity that forces you to wonder whether there's really a monster at all (and you'll still be wondering that when it's over), or just some seriously disturbed, damaged psyches. Or both.

My expectations were admittedly sky-high, and though I really, really liked THE BABADOOK, I wasn't sure that I LOVED it. However, I've been thinking about it on and off all day, rolling its brilliantly tangled thematic layers around in my head, and I bet I will raise this rating later on.

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