Something Wicked This Way Comes
- The Babadook review by Count Otto Black
This low-budget horror movie is unusual in a number of ways from the get-go; it's Australian, which means it's outside the Hollywood mainstream, and the director is female, which is unusual anywhere, especially in the horror genre. Which Jennifer Kent (previously unknown, but destined, judging by this film, to be somewhat better known in years to come) clearly knows and loves. "Cabin In The Woods" was hailed as a triumphantly original horror film because it took all the desperately tired horror clichés and semi-humorously justified them in a parody that liked itself just a little bit too much, and was ultimately cosily self-referential underneath all the gore and CGI. This film is completely off-the-wall. The references are there (some of them in the form of actual movie clips watched by the characters on TV), but they're eclectic to say the least; "Nosferatu" is a major influence, and I'm pretty sure "The Haunting" (the original, not the abominable remake), "The Exorcist", "The Omen", and pretty much anything else involving a haunted house and/or an evil child are in there somewhere. As are early and rather creepy Disney cartoons about the big bad wolf. And I'm pleased to see that Ms. Halt is well aware of Mario Bava.
The two central characters, the surprisingly unglamorous Essie Davis (remember, this isn't Hollywood), and the quite extraordinary Noah Wiseman, who I hope escapes the curse of child actors and has a long and fruitful career ahead of him, are superb as a mother and son who both have major problems of an absolutely believable kind. Apart from Mister Babadook, of course... Who is the most original monster we've seen in a very, very long time. Not that we see much of him - a clever director (and we definitely have one here) knows that hiding your monster as much as possible makes him scarier. But Ms Kent really shows how smart she is by understanding that, even in the era of CGI, not only is less more when it comes to being scary, but if you clearly establish your monster as a stylized creature that might have sprung from an exceptionally ill-advised children's storybook, the kind of CGI you can afford for a low-budget film will work perfectly if you know what you're doing. Which, fortunately, she does.
As horror films go, this one has extraordinarily little gore. What it has is proper edge-of-seat scariness. This film scared me, and not once did it do so with the kind of cheap jump-cut that automatically gives us a fright in the same way that we'll jump if somebody says "Boo!" And it's startlingly original. Your perception of exactly who or what the monster is changes repeatedly throughout the film, largely due to the performances of the two leading actors, and I defy anybody to say "I knew it!" when they find out how it all ends. No spoilers - it suffices to say that it's not how you expected. Especially if you're going by the rules of formulaic Hollywood slasher movies. And don't bother flipping those rules on their heads either - this movie is too original to attempt the "exactly the opposite of what you expected" gambit and hope you'll applaud such a daring conception. Very original indeed, with characters you actually believe in and care about. And it certainly creeped the hell out of me! What more can you possibly want from a horror film? If you're a gorehound, forget it. Otherwise, highly recommended.
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful.
babadook babadook BABADOOOOOOK!!!!!!
- The Babadook review by DG
This had received favourable reviews on its cinema release so I decided to give it a go. The premise is simple, child finds story book the story talks of the babadook. Once the book is read he will never go away. The movie sets up the scares well with a long and cautious build up. It felt very creepy. I am sure in the cinema the scares would have been more in your face. I felt the scares to be rather tame. I was waiting for the big one which never really came.
The lead actors are ace and deserve a mention here but the movie really fell on its nose in the final 3rd. A good watch and entertaining enough but certainly not a horror classic. 6.5/10
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.