The Babadook (2014) Director: Jennifer Kent (15)

Ba-ba-ba-dook!dook!DOOOOOOK! Once again, you'll be too frightened to look above your bed covers in the middle of the night, thanks to Mister Babadook. Jennifer Kent's clever film is part horror with wonderful nods to the genre, part psychological thriller, following the story of widow Amelia (Essie Davis) and her six year old 'problem' son Samuel (the incredible Noah Wiseman) who are struggling to cope following the death of their dear husband/Dad in a car crash; killed whilst transporting Amelia to give birth to Samuel - oh ohhhhhhhhhhh.
The first 30 minutes of the film focus on Amelia's increasing despair at her son's tantrums and the imaginary monster that affects his behaviour - the Babadook. There's a nod there to The Exorcist, with Regan's development into the demon, and you initially think Sam's going to go the same way. However, when a mysterious pop-up book featuring the aforementioned creepy character appears in their home and strange things start happening - doors opening on their own, glass in the food, you know THE USUAL - Amelia starts to believe in the monster. Even after tearing up the book and putting it in the bin, it reappears again on her doorstep; this time with illustrations depicting Amelia strangling her dog, stabbing her son and then slitting her own throat.
Ultimately, The Babadook is about grief and what the monster is will be on your intepretation. As Amelia descends into dark behaviour and murderous intent towards her son, it's akin to the possession or psychosis question of The Amityville Horror or The Shining. Sam's attempts to save his mother and to fight the Babadook are both kick ass and heartbreaking, making him the hero of the film. It is HIS film and it's an extraordinary, powerful performance for such a young actor. Essie Davis too plays a stormer, falling to the monster but fighting back by literally screaming into the Babadook's mouth 'If you touch my son again, I'll fucking kill you!'.
Beautifully shot, the Victorian house where most of the film takes place plays out like Mario Bava's Repulsion. At one key point, Amelia is watching Bava's Black Sabbath, as well as clips from The Phantom of the Opera and The House of Ghosts. It's a film lovingly made with a heritage of horror and designed for maximum creepiness, but wearing its intelligent heart on its sleeve.
4/5 knocks on the door