Jim Drew’s review published on Letterboxd:
First-time writer/director Jennifer Kent gives us this emotionally tender and tensely gripping spookathon.
The strong material between a single mother struggling to cope with loss, a young problematic child and a tough job would be entertainment value alone. The chemistry between the two characters feels very real and adding a malevolent supernatural force to the mix only heightens the experience and adds urgency and very real peril.
Much of the burden of this film rests on the shoulder of Essie Davis. She does not struggle with this weight and gives a performance that deserves any accolade thrown her way. It's exhausting watching her flawed character lose hope and sanity. The other character of young Sam played by Noah Wiseman gives an apparently more divisive performance (I think he rocks personally). A fighter and protector, his character is hugely important to the viewer, to give us earned hope in dark proceedings.
Another winner is the sound design, helping create a scary enthusiasm. Without convincing threat, this film falls down even with great acting. Originality isn't its best aspect and there is an element of seeing a few of these things before but an interesting and unexpected ending helps you forgive all of that.