starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall
written and directed by Jennifer Kent
by Walter Chaw Though taut and incredibly well-performed, Jennifer Kent's assured debut The Babadook has a general lack of faith that subtext is most effective when it remains subtext. There's irony there, somewhere, in saying this about a horror movie that's essentially about the concept of a Jungian Shadow. The Babadook concerns a mysterious children's book featuring the titular bogey, who, after knocking to announce itself, bloody well lets itself in, thank you very much. Discovered one night by troubled little Samuel (Noah Wiseman) and read to him by his mom, long-suffering palliative-care nurse Amelia (Essie Davis--stardom awaits), the book foretells the arrival of a Jack White-looking thing (Tim Purcell) that serves as an unfortunately obvious metaphor for repressed grief. It’s a pity, because for all the wonderful moments of the film, it never feels truly menacing--I never believed that it would be a fable that ended in a moral, hard-won, rather than a fairytale with a happily ever after.