The Babadook: Jennifer Kent’s Australian horror film is an original take on parental unease.

Having children is frightening. Absolutely. They’re usually little monsters, who even without demonic possession manage to ruin your life, spew vomit everywhere and fill your nights with screams and sleeplessness. Watching The Shining, Danny scares me much more than Jack, who I have a grudging sympathy for. Here single mum and nurse Amelia (Essie Davis) must deal with her little Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a child who believes in monsters and has a knack for getting into trouble and throwing screaming fits. Amelia loves him, but inside that love there’s also a kernel of hatred and blame as her husband was killed as he drove her to the hospital as she gave birth to Samuel. They’re about getting by, helped by a frail elderly neighbor, but one day a weird pop up book appears, which seems to key into Samuel’s fear of monsters. The Babadook-dook-dook is going to come knocking and things are going to get creepy!

Jennifer Kent has written and directed an original horror film that turns and twists in a number of surprising ways, but always keeps its focus on the relationship between the mother and son and the weirdness of that dynamic. The film looks fantastic and Kent keeps a tight control on the claustrophobic atmosphere. The world surrounding Amelia at first seems hostile – with unsympathetic authority figures and a bitchy sister – but this is leavened by the friendly work mate and neighbor, but ultimately the horror and strangeness is going to have to be sorted out between mother and son.

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