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The Babadook

Babbadook, The (Jennifer Kent, 2014) wr. Jennifer Kent, prod. Kristina Ceyton, Kristian Moliere, dp Radek Ladczuk, ed. Simon Njoo, prod. design Alex Holmes; Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall, Barbara West, Ben Winspear; psychological thriller

Strange things hover in the shadows, but the real terror lurks deeper within, in tyro helmer Jennifer Kent's accomplished and imaginative psychological horror tale.
Like the elaborate children's pop-up book that conjures its eponymous bogeyman, The Babadook offers a wonderfully hand-crafted spin on a tale oft told, of parent and child in an old, dark house where things go bump (and scratch and growl and hover in the shadows) in the night. Steeped in references to early cinema, magic and classic fairy tales — which, at times, causes it to feel like a scary-movie version of Hugo — this meticulously designed and directed debut feature from writer-director Jennifer Kent (expanded from her award-winning short, Monster) manages to deliver real, seat-grabbing jolts while also touching on more serious themes of loss, grief and other demons that can not be so easily vanquished. Warmly received in its Sundance preem, where it was snapped up by IFC Midnight, the pic should delight genre aficionados at fests and in niche theatrical play, but may prove a touch too cerebral for Saw or Paranormal Activity-style crossover play. Scott Foundas, Variety.

See also: The Nightingale, Jennifer Kent's second feature.

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Garry Gillard | New: 23 May, 2014 | Now: 25 November, 2019