The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
There seem to be two camps when it comes to this film: one find Samuel – played by Noah Wiseman – annoying, and therefore dislike the film. The other seem to like Samuel, and like the film more as a result. I fall into the second camp. I found Samuel to be annoying at times, and cute at others, just like most children. Most importantly, I found him believable. His mother, Amelia, played by Essie Davis, was fantastic. This is really her story, and Davis plays her character flawlessly. The supporting actors are all solid, but Mrs. Roach and Daniel Henshall – both minor characters – are the only ones worth talking about outside of the two leads.
Story & Script
What I love about The Babadook is that one could argue that this has nothing to do with the supernatural just as easily as one could say it did. The filmmakers do this intentionally, I would argue, and that is what makes it so memorable. The story is that of a single mother, Amelia, trying to cope with her disobedient son. Amelia’s husband was killed in a car accident on the way to taking her to the hospital to have her son Samuel, and deep down, she resents Samuel for this. When Samuel introduces a book he says he found on the shelf about this creature known as the Babadook, strange things start to happen, and Amelia and Samuel start to see this creature around the house, trying to cause havoc. Or so they think, anyway. Whether or not this creature exists is up for debate, which I loved about it.
Jennier Kent does an excellent job with The Babadook, even if there are moments where the scares could have been even better. She shows restraint when presenting the creature, which works in the film’s favor. Even though there are not many jump scares, Kent manages to get under your skin, and make the whole movie an unsettling experience, which is great to see in a director’s freshman outing. James Wan has proven, though, that you can make a movie with both jump scares, and a deep set feeling of terror with his work in Insidious, and I would have loved for Kent to take advantage of the mood she created right from the start to make me squirm a bit more. Still, this is one of the most unsettling horror movies I’ve seen in quite some time.
The mental degradation that Amelia goes through is something to behold. This is what really makes the film for me, and why I want to fall into the camp that claims this is not a supernatural horror film, but rather a psychological horror film. I’m not sold on that yet, but I love that I get to question that in my own head after watching it. In other words, The Babadook makes one think, which is something we rarely see in the horror genre. Being deep is not a requirement for me to enjoy a horror film, but I sure love it when I come across one that is like The Babadook.
I will watch this again, and probably a third time after that. It is too deep to only watch it one time.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.