One to watch from the edge of your seat, The Babadook (M), screening at 8pm on Sunday 7 June, brings the Film Festival to fitting climax. If renowned horror novelist Stephen King has called it “Highly disturbing and highly recommended”, you know you are in for something special. Critics have praised this cross between horror-suspense and psychological thriller that tells the story of grieving mother, Amelia (played by Essie Davis, unrecognisable from her Phryne Fisher TV role) and her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) trying to piece their lives back together.
She struggles to deal with her own grief and the behaviour of her son, who is convinced a picture book’s character has become the monster haunting their lives.
The Australian writer-director, Jennifer Kent, explains to SBS Movies’ Sandy George how she made The Babadook:
Jennifer Kent: “I wanted the audience to feel like there was a pair of hands around their necks from the very first frame, getting tighter and tighter. . .”
“When people get into the cinema they may be surprised by the depth of the story. I rarely thought about how to scare people when I was making The Babadook; I thought about telling a story about facing up to dark things in your life because, if you don’t, there are ramifications. We all know what it’s like to suppress difficult feelings and experiences. It’s something that fascinates me and it spurred on the writing and making of this film, which also taps into the fear of going mad.
“Amelia’s son Samuel is out of control because his mother is completely repressing her sadness and grief and he can feel it. He is playing up to try and get through to her on a deeply unconscious level.