Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her 'out of control' 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel's dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both.
When a disturbing storybook called 'The Babadook' turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he's been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control, he becomes more unpredictable and violent. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son's behaviour, is forced to medicate him.
But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.
If you’ve met me, you would instantly know that I’m one of the biggest advocates of the horror genre. I just have to get my hands on every horror title and view it at least once. No matter if it’s a terrible B-movie, one that has a treasure trove of blood and entrails, or a slow burn psychological horror, I’m usually a fan of the horror genre in general. I love having nightmares more than the usual puppy dogs and ice cream dreams, and I love when a movie truly scares me so much so that I’m a bit frightened to walk down my dark hallway at night. I know it’s a twisted mind set, and maybe it stems from my dad bringing me to see ‘Aliens‘ at such a young age in the theater, but the horror genre is where I feel most at home.
Now over the past decade or two, there have been only a few select movies that have actually scared me. Most of the horror films as of recently rely on standard horror beats to muster up cheap, fast scares that come across more silly and stupid than anything. It’s that ‘once in a blue moon’ where a horror film does everything right. And that blue moon is ‘The Babadook‘, which is an Australian horror film written and directed by actress Jennifer Kent. ‘The Babadook‘ is quite possibly the scariest film since Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining‘. It’s a story and film that will stay with you for days and keep you up in the middle of the night, scared to look out over the covers and walk alone down the dark hall in your home. It’s not only one of the most frightening films I’ve ever seen, it’s also a fairly endearing film too that shows the story of a single widowed mother of a young boy with an active imagination, and their struggle to keep a happy life.
Sam (Noah Wiseman) and his widowed mom Amelia (Essie Davis) seemingly lead a happy life together and are still trying to pick up the pieces after Sam’s dad died on the day of his birth. Amelia used to be a successful writer, but now takes care of the elderly in a nursing home to make ends meet. Meanwhile, her lively young boy Sam is having difficulties making friends at school and spends his time making wood and steel catapults to fight invisible monsters. Amelia reads a bed time story to Sam every night before he goes to bed, but one night a strange book shows up called ‘The Babadook‘. It’s written like a children’s story complete with pop-ups, but the story is quite sinister that depicts a giant shadowy creature that lurks around you and your house at all times, never leaves, and will eventually kill you.
Soon after she starts reading it to Sam, she realizes this is an evil book and tries to throw it away. Well of course the book shows up again and things start happening in the house to Sam and Amelia. Lights flicker, a strange and evil looking creature appear, one of the scariest voices echo through the house, and Sam and Emilia start to hallucinate. It’s not a good situation. What makes ‘The Babadook‘ so scary is it’s character development between Sam and Amelia. You can tell there is a lot of love for each other there and they even make a pact to protect each other. By doing this, we feel very connected and attached to these people, and when evil starts to fly full circle, their transformations are even more terrifying.
The creature itself is something straight from your worst nightmares and not something you would ever want to see in person, let alone your dreams. There is an aspect of ‘The Shining‘ put into this story and Essie Davis plays this aspect pitch perfect. Her voice octave range, body language and expressions sell every emotion and action so realistically that she deserves an acting award. And Wiseman’s performance as Sam is excellent as well. ‘The Babadook‘ doesn’t rely on CG effects, gore, or cheap scares.
Every action and piece of dialogue is thoroughly thought out and executed, delivering one of the scariest films to ever grace the big screen. I already can’t wait to watch this again and scare myself over and over.
'The Babadook' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image here looks excellent, considering, most of the film is shot in very dark settings. The color palette is a bit muted with tons of grays, blues, and rusted browns, making up most of the house interior. There are no bright oranges, reds, or vivid greens anywhere, as it all has a stale and gloomy look to it, which was a decision director Jennifer Kent made to keep the vibes on the creepy side of things.
That being said, the colors are well balanced at all times. Black levels are deep and inky with only a small amount of crush here and there, where if you blinked, you'd miss it. The detail is sharp and vivid throughout, giving each closeup a great amount of depth and detail. Every freckle, wrinkle, and individual hair shows up nicely and is distinguishable. The detailed craftsman work on the house interior walls and furniture show an excellent amount of stressed detail to make things look antiqued and old. The skin tones are natural and there were no compression issues to speak of, leaving this video presentation with excellent marks.
This release comes with two great audio options. You can choose between a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 option or a stereo 2.0 option. The one to go with is the 5.1 option and is everything you ever wanted a horror movie to sound like. Each creepy sound effect and ambient noise in the house is robust and full of scares. The directionality with these sounds will make you look over your shoulder to see if the Babadook is actually standing beside you. Each noise is layered and balanced for the best sound possible and never reaches shrieking levels.
The score by Jed Kurzel fits this amazing horror film perfectly and always adds to each suspenseful moment with out drowning any sound effect or piece of dialogue out. Speaking of the dialogue, it's always balanced, crystal clear, and easy to follow with the Australian accents. There were no pops, cracks, shrills, or hiss to note. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide here. The subwoofer kicks into high gear from time to time as well and is sure to give you a good rumble or two. This is a fantastic horror movie audio track.
Jennifer Kent's Short Film, 'Monster' (HD, 11 Mins.) - Here is Kent's short film, which was the inspiration of 'The Babadook'. It's a little different and filmed in B&W, but has a lot of similarities and scares. Definitely worth watching to see where 'The Babadook' was drawn from.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 3 Mins.) - There are three deleted scenes total, all of which have Amelia talking with Sam or picking him up from somewhere. None of these scenes really added anything special to the whole film.
Creating the Book with Illustrator Alex Juhasz (HD, 4 Mins.) - Alex shows us how he created the actual pop up book for the film and what went into designing it.
A Tour of the House Set (HD, 7 Mins.) - This is a tour of the house, which was actually completely built inside a studio warehouse. There were tons of detail and work that went into every part of the house to give it a very creepy and lived in look.
The Stunts: Jumping The Stairs (HD, 2 Mins.) - B-roll footage of the wire work of Amelia flying and jumping up the stairs.
Special Effects: The Stabbing Scene (HD, 2 Mins.) - The visual effects team show how they used lamb meat to make the stabbing scene look real.
Behind the Scenes (HD, 3 Mins.) - Here is more B-roll from two of the scenes from the film. There are no interviews here.
Cast and Crew Interviews (HD, 62 Mins.) - Good gravy, man. Here we have over an hour of interviews from the cast and crew of the film, where they talk about the story, the characters, the filming, and the monster. The kid actor Noah Wiseman was nowhere to be found here.
Theatrical Trailers (HD, 5 Mins.) - A few different trailers for the film.
'The Babadook' is one of the scariest films in recent memory. Australian director Jennifer Kent has perfectly concocted not only a brilliant and scary story, but has made a smart backstory, a terrifying monster, and has give us one hell of a cast with Oscar worthy performances. I have no doubt that 'The Babadook' will linger in your minds for months and keep scaring you when you walk alone in your dark house. The video and audio presentations are both great, and the wealth of extras are all worth watching. If you love horror movies, this is a MUST OWN!