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The Babadook

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Australia, Canada · 2014
1h 34m
Director Jennifer Kent
Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall
Genre Drama, Horror

A recently widowed mother battles her son's fear of "The Babadook,” a dark character from a violent children's book who is lurking somewhere in the house. But, when her son starts acting out, she soon discovers the sinister presence is all around her. A terrifying horror whose real monsters deal in grief and loss.

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What are people saying?

Megan Rochlin Profile picture for Megan Rochlin

I judge horror movies by how many times I have to pause the film to see how much of the film is left. I vividly remember pausing The Babadook to check how much more of the film was left, and being disappointing that I would have to survive another 20 minutes. The Babadook is genuinely chilling, and, unlike most horror films, it has heart.

Teddy Pierce Profile picture for Teddy Pierce

A fine horror film. I didn't enjoy it as much as many seem to have. I enjoyed the ideas about how institutions such as school, family, child services, and the police fail to support Emelia and Samuel in myriad ways. However, I was more drawn to the first half of the film from Emelia's POV that focuses on, and aligns us with, her helplessness when it comes to the way Samuel is acting, rather than their helplessness in the face of the monster.

Cyrus Berger Profile picture for Cyrus Berger

This movie really scared me more than any movie I've seen in a long time. Jennifer Kent does a great job building up a creepy atmosphere and a sense of confusion and uncertainty. It also weaves the horror and emotion in its story together in a very impressive way, where both elements added to each other instead of distracting from each other.

What are critics saying?


New York Daily News by

So many horror films trade depth for a thrill. The Babadook has both. It dispenses with cheap scares and draws tension from a slowly enveloping dread. And when you think you know where it’s going, that’s when it goes in for the kill.


Slant Magazine by Abhimanyu Das

Its horrors go beyond any single raggedy phantom, reaching back to the primordial fear of death and loss: of a child, of a loved one, of one's own sense of self.


The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

No male director would have put so much as a toe inside this trouble zone, although Kent does borrow a helpful domestic hint from “Shaun of the Dead”: rather than vanquish our worst nightmare, why not tame it, lock it away, and hope?


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

Kent and editor Simon Njoo show maturity and trust in their material, expertly building tension through the insidious modulation from naturalistic dysfunctional family drama to all-out boogeyman terror.


Time Out by Joshua Rothkopf

On purely formal grounds (the ones on which the genre lives or dies), Kent is a natural. She favors crisp compositions and unfussy editing, transforming the banal house itself into a subtle, shadowy threat.


Empire by Kim Newman

One of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years — with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade.


The Playlist by Rodrigo Perez

The Babadook is a smart, respectful horror that puts character and emotional issues first, yet never at the cost of a delightful and haunting fright.


Variety by Scott Foundas

This meticulously designed and directed debut feature from writer-director Jennifer Kent (expanded from her award-winning short, “Monster”) manages to deliver real, seat-grabbing jolts while also touching on more serious themes of loss, grief and other demons that can not be so easily vanquished.

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