The Babadook ★★★½

The psychological fears of motherhood rarely manifest themselves with the efficacy of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, a genuinely chilling Australian horror film that values clever scares and carefully calibrated tension over the Wolf Creek-wheelhouse of gratuitous overkill.

Amelia, a single mother who grieves her late husband’s death and struggles with the burden of their troubled son, finds herself engaged in a battle with an unknown presence. It is the titular ‘Babadook’, a dark spirit that takes the form of a children’s story book. Scaring her son into disturbing tantrums and causing maternal resentment, The Babadook builds a world of fevered isolation – revealing fractures between the two that produce violent consequences.

Taking place in grungy Adelaide surrounds, Kent constructs a milieu in The Babadook that feels dislodged from its location. With monochrome shadings and a visual pragmatism thats simultaneously familiar and foreign, we’re viewing this accustomed environment through an unfamiliar lens – rejecting any sense of comfort or proximity.

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