GORE IN THE STORE
THE BABADOOK *****
Directed by Jennifer Kent.
Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall.
Horror, Australia, 94 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK on limited edition 4K UHD/Blu-ray dual format by Second Sight Films on 28th June 2021. RRP £39.99.
“If it’s in a word, or if it’s in a book, you can’t get rid of the Babadook”. There’s no mention of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays in THE BABADOOK’s sinister rhyme, but it’s a good bet that you can’t get rid of the sneaky behatted blighter from that format either, so just be aware before you purchase this new limited-edition release from Second Sight Films.
For those unfamiliar with Jennifer Kent’s truly excellent 2014 feature length directorial debut, the modern horror classic THE BABADOOK follows a grief-stricken young Australian widow Amelia (Essie Davis) desperately trying to raise her six-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) and deal with his erratic behaviour, which includes taking home-made monster fighting weapons to school, whilst still processing the loss of her husband who died violently on the day of her son’s birth. Samuel is convinced that a monster is coming to get him and, when a creepy children’s picture book about a strange top hat wearing figure called the Babadook appears on his bookshelf, Samuel is certain that this is the monster that is now after him. And soon, after a sequence of increasingly disturbing events, Amelia comes to believe that her son may be right.
This was a low budget independent Australian film, that even had to rely on Kickstarter funding to get enough money to complete sets, but it certainly doesn’t look or feel cheap or amateurish. Kent is an assured and confident director and THE BABADOOK more than held its own against contemporary studio horror releases, which is why it went on to become such a critical success and one of the best reviewed films of 2014. It’s genuinely scary, but also profoundly sad and thought provoking, and contains two fantastic lead performances (and the rare miracle of a non-annoying child actor!).
It still holds up to repeat viewings and, surprisingly for something that started out as a small unassuming independent movie, it has made quite a big cultural impact. The Babadook creature has become an iconic 21st century movie monster and I struggle to think of any other recent horror icons that have broken through in such a way (Annabelle at a push, but haunted dolls as a concept were already cliched). The Babadook creature has subsequently cameoed in the sitcom WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and also, perhaps most unexpectedly, joined Pride parades after it became an unlikely LGBT mascot after THE BABADOOK was mistakenly listed as an LGBT film on Netflix and a meme developed around that. Jennifer Kent was amused by her creature’s second life saying; “I thought ah, you bastard. He doesn’t want to die so he’s finding ways to become relevant”.
This release, the world premiere of the film in 4K UHD, is presented in a snazzy looking rigid slipcase with artwork by Peter Diamond along with a 150-page hardback book containing new essays and collectors’ art cards. The disc is also chocked full of brand-new, and archive, interviews with the cast and crew alongside making of featurettes about the stunts, special effects and props and also, most interestingly, contains Jennifer Kent’s short film MONSTER which the film was spawned from. So, everything an avid THE BABADOOK fan could want!
Any horror enthusiast that hasn’t seen THE BABADOOK owes it to themselves to give it a watch as it’s one of the best genre movies from the past decade, and this release should be perfect for collectors and fans who are eager to revisit it.