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Review for the Terrifying Horror Film THE BABADOOK - Sundance '14

Movie Review Sundance 2014 by Joey Paur

I'm happy to tell you that this year the Sundance Film Festival movie line-up included one hell of a terrifying horror film! I've seen a lot of movies at the fest this year, some of which I thought would be scary, but instead turned out to be very disappointing. But not The Babadook. This Australian horror movie scared the shit out of me and the audience that I watched it with. 

This was such an amazingly made horror film that ditched the conventional, predictable horror movie storytelling style and gave audiences something dark, disturbing and surprising! The movie not only did a great job screwing with the audience's heads, but it also featured some pretty nightmarish visuals to stimulate their fears even more.

It's not easy to successfully invent a new classic horror monster, but this movie did it perfectly. The Babadook is an insanely creepy monster that has the power to haunt your dreams. I won't lie... I was a little scared to turn off the lights and go to sleep after I watched the movie. I saw it with my brothers, and they felt the exact same way, afraid to turn out their lights at night and making sure to close their closet door before they went to bed. It was an extremely effective horror film that played with your fears and maybe even gave you some new ones!

The story followed a stressed out mother and her young, seven-year-old son who throws some crazy violent tantrums. The fits get worse after she finds and reads him a pop-up book called The Babadook that introduces the monster to the audience for the first time. As the movie goes on, the Babadook starts to terrorize the family. The mom doesn't want to believe that it's real and thinks her son is going crazy, but she comes to find that the Babadook is very real, and very deadly. 

The movie is extremely intense and the actors give some pretty incredible performances. The movie stars Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, and they both had to act out some pretty heavy situations. I was wowed by how powerful their performances were. There was stuff that they did that just made the hair on my arms and neck stand up in fear. 

The part of any horror movie that always seems to go wrong is the ending. Very rarely is there a satisfying conclusion to these kinds of films, but The Babadook gives us an ending that fans of the genre will love and be proud of. There's some awesome tension and dread that builds throughout the whole film, and the payoff of it all is brilliant. 

If you are a fan of horror, The Babadook is a must see movie. This is one of those films that I will gladly watch every year when Halloween rolls around. This is easily another one of my favorite movies from Sundance. 

Here's the official synopsis:

“Do you want to die?!” seven-year-old Samuel asks his stressed-out single mother, Amelia. She wonders if his question is a threat or a warning. After dealing with Samuel’s frantic tantrums his entire life, Amelia suspects that her son has begun directing his violent misbehavior toward her. However, after a dark and foreboding children’s book called Mister Babadook mysteriously appears on Samuel’s bookshelf, Amelia must decide if her son is truly deranged, or if there really is a bogeyman lurking in their darkened halls at night. 

First-time feature director Jennifer Kent vividly captures the vicious turbulence Samuel’s shrill outbursts, generating a real sense of horror from his aggressive unruliness, all the while subtly hinting at the weary Amelia’s own deeply troubled nature. The Babadook builds up tension and dread in this damaged family’s home before deftly introducing the terrifying possibility that something even more ominous may be stalking the dysfunctional pair.

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