The Babadook (Kent, 2014)

Babadook
This was quite frustrating. The Babadook starts off so well, with abrupt cuts, a clean, somewhat minimalist mise-en-scene (in the vein of Stanley Kubrick), and sound effects effectively designed to startle. Through and through the film is superbly edited, shot, and lit, providing all the professionalism required for an exceptional horror film. Kent provides us with characters we learn to care about, and a mature vision of their psychological breakdown.

Then, it moves beyond the building of psychological authenticity into generic horror. What begins as a disturbing film exploring mental anxiety and human pain develops into a duplicitous shocker horror with a supernatural cause. Instead of retaining the horror of human madness (something like what The Shining does), Kent forgives the characters (son strangler and mother stabber alike) by allowing a real entity to take on responsibility for the happenings, and by extension the psychological journey and psychosis encountered. The end sees a family privileged to suddenly reset. This is much less terrifying than when life makes you crazy.

Could have been a masterpiece.

76/100 – Very Good.

4 Stars

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About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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