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The Babadook centres on single mother Amelia and her young son Samuel, who are haunted by a mysterious character from a children’s book that comes to life as a dark vision at night. Amelia is still dealing with grief from her husband’s death in a car accident on the way to hospital to give birth to Samuel. As Samuel’s birthday approaches, the nightmarish Mister Babadook becomes more of a threat until Amelia and Samuel are locked in their home one night fighting for survival. The apparently possessed mother appears certain to kill her beloved son. Will Amelia be able to subdue the monster within?
In a beautifully crafted script, Jennifer Kent elevates the horror genre with originality and intelligence. There is a strong sense of place — contemporary Australia — and a credible humanity to all the characters, especially Amelia. The subtle revealing of information has the reader wondering whether the threat from the Babadook is actually supernatural or is he really the manifestation of Amelia's grief and rising anxiety? While very effective in the horror genre, the story has a much wider resonance in showing a woman’s nightmarish psychological struggle with grief.
It is rare to read a script that transcends its genre, but Kent’s assured writing has the power to seduce even the most reluctant horror audience, offering a complex and emotional study of motherhood and grief, in conjunction with more traditional and masterfully told spine-chilling terror. The Babadook well deserves to be celebrated as a standout script of 2014.