Wednesday, 3 December 2014

15 Second Review: The Babadook

The Babadook treads similar thematic ground to other motherhood horror films, including First Born, Baby Blues, and even We Need to Talk about Kevin. I class the latter as a horror film on the grounds that the content is patently horrific and dwells on emotional distress, even if it does not conform to the genre's usual tropes. The Babadook plays the opposite trick: We Need to Talk about Kevin is a horror film dressed up like a drama, whereas The Babadook is a drama dressed up as a horror film. Sadly, the filmmakers' commitment to that genre-base does the most damage to the movie: the third act plays out like a supercut of horror cliches, meaning the climax provides the film's least compelling moments. That slip perhaps suggests a lack of confidence on the director's or the production company's part. Either way, it tarnishes an otherwise bold (if not wholly original) movie. The "descent into madness" theme has been done to death in recent years, but this is a good example of how to prevent that madness from spiraling into narrative incoherence. I am not convinced that the eponymous spirit is destined to become a classic horror boogeyperson, but The Babadook is a solid effort on all fronts, boasting good effects, convincing performances (especially from the central pairing), and an atmospheric but unobtrusive score. In sum, this is a well paced, creepy little story that has enough thematic meat on its bones to satisfy most viewers. 

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