If you previously had any complaints that this was a particularly weak year for horror films, the wait for the scariest film of the year has ended. It’s the rare kind of scary movie to make people feel for the safety of those around them and stay up all night. Proceed with caution if you’re easily terrified. I can’t recommend the Australian produced The Babadook more strongly. It’s not only easily the best horror film of the year. It’s one of the best films of the year – period – with the best female leading performance in a horror film since Rosemary’s Baby.
A single mother (Essie Davis) already torn apart by grief and loss struggles to give her imaginative and sometimes unruly son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a normal life. A creepy looking pop-up book titled Mister Babadook shows up in Samuel’s room out of nowhere and unleashes a terrifying terror upon a family struggling to keep things together as is.
Expanding her 2005 short Monster to feature length, actress and first time feature director Jennifer Kent hasn’t only crafted perhaps the most uniquely feminist horror film I’ve ever seen, but she has imbued a standard sounding spooky story with dramatic gravitas and richer subtext than genre audiences usually get. The last time parenting was looked at this presciently in a horror film was Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, but this blows that out of the water. It’s positively stunning to think this is Kent’s first feature length film. The power of her direction (and in some cases, misdirection) leads to a positively wrenching experience. It’s anchored by a remarkably committed lead performance from Davis, who makes the audience feel every ounce of a mother’s torment over potentially losing her son in various different ways.
I saw this film months ago, but almost every frame has stayed with me like I just watched it yesterday. This is the kind of genre effort people should rightfully get excited about, and when you see what it has in store, you’ll immediately see why.
Friday, October 24th, 9:30pm (SOLD OUT, RUSH ONLY), Scotiabank Theatre
SPECIAL SECOND SCREENING ADDED FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24th at 11:45pm!