"If it's in a word, or it's in a look, you can't get rid of the Babadook."
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.
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"The Babadook is urgent, uncanny and entirely disturbing, a dream within a dream within a nightmare. It is the best English language supernatural film of this new century." - Colin Covert, Star Tribune
"You will be scared. And also, perhaps even more scarily, moved." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Let a law be passed, requiring all horror films to be made by female directors." - Anthony Lane, New Yorker
I am fascinated by what happens to people when they suppress their feelings, especially painful ones. Suppression may work momentarily, even for a number of years, but eventually the truth will come out.
Amelia, the central character of the film, goes through the horrific and violent loss of her husband, the love of her life, in a terrible car accident. This happens as they are speeding to the hospital, Amelia in labour with their first child. The day her husband is killed is the day her son Samuel is born. The film begins almost seven years later.
Amelia finds she cannot love her son because she hasn’t been able to face the grief of what happened. This suppressed grief builds such energy that it splits off from her, stalks then possesses her, and eventually wills her to murder her 6-year-old child. This questioning of mother love is where the core of the horror lies. How does one cope with a mother, the oldest and most trusted symbol of love and protection, transforming into a terrible force of murderous destruction? How does a six-year-old child possibly overcome that?
This precarious relationship between Amelia and Samuel is also where the hope of the film exists. Despite its horror, The Babadook is a love story, a mother moving through the centre of hell towards her child. It’s a nightmare ride, but like Amelia, the audience is rewarded for their commitment to it.
I am very inspired by the early silent horror films. They were visually beautiful and arresting, elevated in many cases to a poetic level. This is our visual starting point with The Babadook: to take inspiration from these bold visual worlds and find our own distinctive, modern take on them. These films were strongly influenced by German Expressionism, bringing the ‘inside out’ - externalizing the emotions, reflecting them in the design and camera work. This heightened style creates a perfect visual language for a psychological horror.
Considering the horrific power of this story, our teams’ commitment to a new and captivating visual world, and the potential for powerhouse performances in the roles of mother and son, I have full faith that The Babadook will be a visually arresting, powerfully moving and deeply frightening film. It has enough elements of genre to make it recognizable to a wider audience, but it also possesses enough originality, boldness and depth to make it unlike any other film an audience has seen to date.