SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Jennifer Kent, I bow to you.
Ladies and gentlemen, the hype is real. This is the baddest, meanest, most nightmarish, and deeply affecting horror film of the past few years. In fact, this is easily one of the finest horror films that I have ever seen. Again, the hype is real.
The direction is this movie is beyond belief. Claustrophobic and alienating close-ups, immaculate shadows crafted out of dark and inescapable memories, wide-shots that will make you shiver into submission; the The Babadook is unbelievable in terms of directorial flourish and restraint. Jennifer Kent knows when to scare the ever living shit out of you, and when to cut to an image of startling beauty and clarity.
The performances by Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman are simply incredible. Terror, pain, suffering, love, sadness, depression, anger; these two actors had to show it all, and boy did they pull it off. Davis in particular should receive an Oscar nomination, as her portrayal of grief is as heartbreaking and brutally honest as anything I've seen on screen.
And yet, the story binds everything together. Simultaneously a macabre tale of peerless and spooky horror as well as a character study of unexpected depth and sincerity; The Babadook weaves a fable that is both grounded in reality and free in a dreamlike state. The film shifts between these two ideals, sometimes in the same scene, and as a result, the film has a visual complexity that is as accomplished as anything that I've seen this year.
However, the main attraction for horror junkies is The Babadook. Does he deliver?
IN EVERY FREAKING WAY POSSIBLE.
He's one of the most glorious creations that I've ever seen in horror. You see just enough of him. Not too much, not too little, but his presence is felt throughout the entire tapestry of the film. Long story short, and without spoilers, I got what I came in for. Plus WAY more.
Overall, the year of 2014 has been one of the finest years for cinema in a very long time, and The Babadook is a prime example of why film isn't dead. It's a throbbing, demented, brilliant, and breathtaking masterwork of Gothic creepiness and intense emotional turmoil. As far as I'm concerned, this is essential viewing.