K’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Babadook is Jennifer Kent's directorial debut and if this is what she comes up with for her first feature film I cannot wait to see what she's doing with The Nightingale.
The Babadook is a mix of two distinct genre's, character study and horror, you can see when the film shifts from study to horror and you can see where they meld together at the end. Usually that would be quite jarring but Kent does it with such finesse and style you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it. I couldn't pick a favourite of the two though, they both compliment each other in such a nuanced fashion that it feels like an organic progression. You start with the Amilia and Samuel, Amilia's goal is keep her and child aflost and Samuel's goal is to protect his Mother from monsters, with work and school you can already see how those two goals clash and it grows and grows from there. Nothing feels forced or there for the sake of it, everything feels natural, the dialogue is fantastic and at times incredibly heart warming. The acting is superb, Noah Wiseman and Essie David play off each other so, so well.
Thematically this film is a gold mine, nothing is forced in your face and it's only there if you're looking for it. I think the reason why it doesn't seem forced is because Kent impliments the themes visually and when you read into the visuals you get that extra layer of depth to the characters and the story and things get a little darker but a lot more personal and that was were the horror came in for me. While horror can be about the unknown and the mysterious, the best horror is the kind that's grounded in reality and has a seed of truth to it, that's the kind of horror that keeps you awake and plays on your mind.
I think this film is a masterfully crafted character study/horror, a fanastic debut for Jennifer Kent and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for her next film.