The Babadook is the latest in a long line of Australian horror movies like The Loved Ones, Wolf Creek and erm… Wolf Creek 2?
One of horrors great tragedies of recent years is how so many films fit so tightly into an existing trope (Found Footage, Slasher, Haunted House etc) that you kind of already know what is going to happen within the first five minutes. To its credit The Babadook takes elements from a few of the classic films and genres, notably The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Ring but sadly never becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
The Babadook is atmospheric and scary at the right times and with a strong performance at it’s heart. Essie Davis is great as the desperate matriarch but Noah Wiseman makes for a ghastly and odd child and his early overacting threatens to undermine the whole thing.
Whilst Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees represent subconscious fears and horrible revenge, and Michael Myers embodies pure evil, the Babadook is a personification of depression and particularly repression. This is quite a fresh approach and it also keeps the ending from being laughably absurd.
The Babadook isn’t ground breaking but it is significant in being another welcome stride towards horror finally stepping out of the shadows of Scream, Sixth Sense, Blair Witch Project and Insidious to reach a creative plateau in line with what oriental horror films have achieved for years.