The Babadook

Jennifer Kent’s ‘The Babadook’ is a new horror great

The Babadook contains DNA from such disparate influences as Roman Polanski, Joe Dante, Georges Méliès, German expressionism, and Roald Dahl, but Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent’s very impressive feature debut is an intensely emotional horror film that feels completely unique in the current film landscape. It’s an allegory on grief, love, loss, and maternal trauma, and is as consistently unnerving as many a Polanski movie (and is the scariest thing with Roald Dahl blood since Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘The Babadook’ is as much an exploration of grief as it is a terrifying horror film

In the 2010 film Rabbit Hole, a character compares grief to a stone that you carry around in your pocket. There are times when it is easy to forget about this extra weight, but then one day you reach into your jacket and suddenly remember that it’s there. The grief of losing a loved one can never fully vanish. It will always be there in some form, whether it be as a stone in your pocket or as a spindly fingered, top hat-wearing boogeyman. If that latter comparison makes little sense, then you should see Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. In addition to being a thoroughly satisfying horror film, it is an extraordinary character-driven story about a woman trying to recover from the loss of her husband.

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