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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Babadook 2014 Reviewed

Updated: 5 days ago

Featured Image For The Babadook 2014 Reviewed.  Chilling 'The Babadook' film poster depicting a shadowy, clawed figure looming over a distressed woman and child in a doorway.
Lurking within the dark corners of grief, the Babadook awaits, its presence a sinister whisper against the backdrop of the mind.

From the depths of our closets to the shadowed corners of every room, the primal fear that lurks in the spaces between waking and sleep is an ancient and relentless terror. We've spun those fears into countless tales and myths, hoping to understand, perhaps even control them. In her stunning 2014 debut feature, Jennifer Kent does the opposite. She weaponizes our deepest fears with merciless precision in the modern horror masterpiece "The Babadook."

The Babadook Key Takeaways

  • Grief is a monster: The film doesn't shy away from portraying grief as an ugly, destructive, and sometimes all-consuming force. It can warp our perceptions and manifest in terrifying ways.

  • Repression is dangerous: Amelia's refusal to confront her grief and trauma surrounding her husband's death makes her vulnerable. This repressed energy feeds the Babadook, giving it power.

  • The monstrous side of motherhood: The film brutally explores the darker aspects of motherhood – the exhaustion, the isolation, the unspoken rage, and the potential to lose oneself in the role of caregiver.

  • Mental health matters: The Babadook can be seen as a metaphor for mental illness, whether it's depression, anxiety, or unresolved trauma. The film highlights the importance of acknowledging and addressing those struggles.

  • No easy answers: The film's ambiguous ending is a powerful reminder that mental health journeys and confrontations with our inner demons are rarely simple or have clean-cut solutions.

  • The power of facing your fears: Ultimately, Amelia learns that she can't run from her grief or rage forever. By confronting the Babadook, she confronts a part of herself, symbolizing a first step towards healing.

  • Acceptance and coexistence: The ending suggests that some shadows can't be fully vanquished but instead must be acknowledged, managed, and lived with.

Woman looking terrified while watching The Babadook (2014).
You can't shut the book on this nightmare.

The story centers on Amelia, a single mother already at the end of her tether. The violent death of her husband lingers over her like a pall as she struggles to raise her disturbed son, Samuel. Exhausted and frayed, she finds a respite of sorts in a creepy children's book called "Mister Babadook." But the book’s unsettling rhymes and shadowy pop-up figures aren't just a bedtime story, they're a prophecy. Samuel becomes convinced that the Babadook is real, and his mother's fragile reality begins to unravel.

Kent's genius lies in the film's atmosphere. It's a claustrophobic pressure cooker of grief, guilt, insomnia, and the maddening desperation that motherhood can be. Amelia is a woman unraveling before our very eyes, and Essie Davis delivers the kind of performance that carves itself into your psyche. Her eyes gleam with exhausted madness, her smiles stretch too tightly across her face, and her screams ring with heartbreaking authenticity. She is every woman losing her mind, and it's both captivating and utterly chilling.

Then there's Noah Wiseman as Samuel, a disturbed child that inspires immediate discomfort rather than pity. His performance is a masterclass in portraying the monstrous potential lurking in childish innocence. His constant interruptions, screeching demands, and weaponizing of his own vulnerabilities make him one of horror cinema's most genuinely unsettling kids.

As Amelia descends into an abyss of her own making, "The Babadook" morphs from a psychological thriller into something more sinister. Is this a haunting or a woman’s breakdown? That's the horror of the film: it’s the real horror we know all too intimately. Grief and desperation are terrifying enough, but when the monster has your face, where do you hide?

Man with a look of deep unease while watching The Babadook (2014).
Every creak in the house sounds like a page turning.

Rotten Tomatoes Is All Over With The User Reviews and Critic Reviews This One

This isn't a film of jump scares and CGI ghouls – the terror here is far more insidious. Cinematographer Radek Ladczuk and composer Jed Kurzel create a world of stark white rooms that close in as Amelia’s mind does. The soundtrack's a symphony of shrieks and murmurs that burrows its way under your skin and plants a seed of unease that lingers long after the credits roll.

Sure, user reviews have been divisive. Maybe it's because I'm a mother, or perhaps because my own anxieties have more than once led me to dark places. But some folks seem offended by a horror movie being more than just blood and guts. "Worst horror in years"… I get that people have different opinions. I can't justify that sort of nonsensical comment, but that's the nature of horror, isn't it?

While "The Babadook" might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's a horror movie that can justify its acclaim. For me, it stands shoulder to shoulder with genre classics like "The Shining" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin." It's a rare gem that plays on all those fairytale fears that you may have buried as a child, but that never really go away completely.

Is the Babadook symbol of Amelia's grief and repressed rage? Is it a supernatural entity preying on a vulnerable family? Kent never gives us a definitive answer and that's what makes the film endure. Because the real horror isn't something that lurks in the shadows — it's the terrible things we carry inside of us. "The Babadook" takes those shadows and turns them into something tangible, a haunting and harrowing creation that will leave you as chilled as you are deeply disturbed.

And that is The Babadook Reviewed. A modern horror film that always seems to spark debate.

Stay tuned for more horror movie reviews

If You Liked The Babadook You Might Also Like These Films.

  • Hereditary (2018): Directed by Ari Aster, this chilling film explores a family's unraveling after the death of their secretive matriarch. Much like "The Babadook," it deals with themes of inherited trauma, grief's destructive power, and the potential for darkness lurking within seemingly ordinary families.

  • The Witch (2015): Set in 17th century New England, this atmospheric horror from Robert Eggers follows a devout Puritan family who encounter terrifying forces after being exiled to the edge of a sinister forest. Like "The Babadook," the film's horror stems from its characters' isolation, simmering tensions, and the suspicion that evil might be closer than they realize.

  • The Shining (1980): Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece of psychological horror stars Jack Nicholson as a writer who descends into madness while snowed in at the isolated Overlook Hotel with his family. It shares "The Babadook's" claustrophobic atmosphere, the potential for monstrous behavior within a parent, and the haunting imagery that stays with you long past the final credits.

  • Rosemary's Baby (1968): This classic by Roman Polanski follows a young pregnant woman who suspects that her seemingly friendly neighbors have sinister designs for her unborn child. Like "The Babadook," a major focus of the film is a woman's isolation, her anxieties brushed aside, and the encroaching sense that something is terribly wrong.

  • Relic (2020): Another exploration of family dynamics, this Australian horror tells of a daughter and granddaughter who return to their aging matriarch's decaying home and find something disturbing lurking within its walls. Like "The Babadook," it confronts the fears surrounding loss, the potential for our loved ones to become unrecognizable, and the darkness that can manifest within a home.

The Babadook 2014 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is "The Babadook" about? 

A: "The Babadook" is a psychological horror film directed by Jennifer Kent that revolves around a single mother, Amelia, and her troubled son, Samuel. They're haunted by a sinister presence from a disturbing children's pop-up book titled "Mister Babadook." The film delves into themes of grief, trauma, the challenges of motherhood, and the insidious nature of repressed emotions.

Q: Who are the main actors in "The Babadook"? 

A: "The Babadook" stars:

  • Essie Davis as Amelia, a widowed mother struggling to cope with the loss of her husband.

  • Noah Wiseman as Samuel, Amelia's son whose behavioral problems and fear of the Babadook escalate throughout the film.

  • Daniel Henshall as Robbie, a neighbor and potential romantic interest who struggles to connect with Amelia and Samuel.

  • Hayley McElhinney as Claire, Amelia's sister who expresses concern and offers limited support.

Q: Is "The Babadook" considered a good horror film? 

A: "The Babadook" is widely considered an exceptional horror film and one of the best of the 21st century. It's critically acclaimed for:

  • Superb acting: Essie Davis' performance, in particular, is hauntingly powerful.

  • Psychological depth: The film transcends typical horror tropes by focusing on the characters' internal struggles.

  • Unsettling atmosphere: Jennifer Kent's use of cinematography, sound design, and deliberate pacing builds a relentless sense of dread.

Q: What does "The Babadook" symbolize in the film? 

A: The Babadook is primarily a symbol of Amelia's unacknowledged grief over the violent death of her husband, Oskar. It could also represent:

  • Unprocessed trauma: Both Amelia and Samuel struggle with the trauma surrounding Oskar's death.

  • Repressed emotions: The Babadook could be a manifestation of Amelia's suppressed rage and resentment.

  • Mental health struggles: Some interpretations view the Babadook as a symbol of Amelia's potential psychological breakdown.

Q: Why is "The Babadook" called the Babadook? 

A: The entity gets its name from the disturbing children’s pop-up book titled "Mister Babadook." The book mysteriously appears in their home, and its unsettling rhymes seem to prophesize the haunting that follows.

Q: What is the significance of the book titled "The Babadook" in the movie? 

A: The book titled "The Babadook" is crucial for several reasons:

  • Catalyst for the haunting: Reading the book unleashes the Babadook's influence into Amelia and Samuel's lives.

  • Symbol of Amelia's denial: Amelia's attempts to destroy the book represent her futile efforts to repress her grief and trauma.

  • Mirror for internal darkness: The book's disturbing content and illustrations reflect the darkness festering within Amelia.

Q: What sets "The Babadook" apart from other horror movies? 

A: "The Babadook" distinguishes itself from other horror movies by:

  • Focus on psychological horror: The film prioritizes a slow-burning, creeping dread over cheap jump scares.

  • Exploration of complex themes: The movie delves deeply into grief, motherhood, and the dangers of unaddressed trauma.

  • Metaphorical storytelling: The Babadook's ambiguity allows for multiple interpretations, adding layers of meaning.


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