Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd:
“If it's in a word, or it's in a look, you can't get rid of the Babadook."
Horror films as we know them today are rarely original and even more rarely scary. Today's horror film scene is devoted to the 'quiet, quiet, LOUD' genre, the remakes of better asian films genre and my personal bugbear, the found footage genre. Whilst sometimes these genres may come up with something remotely interesting most of us would agree that great horror films are not often being produced.
Whilst I would not go any great lengths to call Jennifer Kent's 'The Babadook' a great horror film, what I would say is that it goes back to basics in order to remind us of the reasons we scare in the first place. It is relatively depressing that a film like this is being hailed as a great film purely based on the fact it breaks the mould of the crap we have endured in recent years. Having said that Kent's film is still an effective film that deals with motherhood, grief, trauma and one scary childrens book to create a psychological horror film of some worth.
The film takes influence from numerous horror films and certainly compares to 'The Exorcist' in many ways, even down to the bed shaking. There are many hints of 'The Shining' and many more but 'The Babadook' still stand on it's own down to the well developed relationship between Mother and Son and the performances behind it from Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman. If I have an issue it is that the metaphor that Mr Babadook represents is a little too obvious. I want to believe that the Babadook is possibly real and not just a product of the mothers grief and trauma but I always knew from the off that this was something from within. I still think the films slow turn of the screw is effective and the atmosphere does get under the skin at times, again this is all down to the connection between the two central characters. I also like who the end implies that we all suffer trauma in our lives, we all go through loss and grief and at times these feelings can be overwhelming but even when we have overcome them they will always be there in the background because they are a part of who we are. Again, I think it may have been made too obvious but overall I think the execution was well done. What is for sure is that Jennifer Kent understands that as Mark Kermode put it, "we scare because we care" and her dedication to developing character is the most important and most encouraging thing about 'The Babadook'