THE BABADOOK

babadookNot quite a horror movie, this Freudian thriller is more like an adult version of “Where the Wild Things Are” — using a monster to represent what’s going on inside the lead character, a widow whose husband died the night she gave birth to their son. And while it’s a bit of a guessing game at first, the screenplay makes clear that even a metaphor can have severe consequences. The director avoids cheap scares and there’s no gore; rather, it’s a psychological fight to the finish (actually, a clever draw) between mother and child. All credit to a remarkable kid named Noah Wiseman, playing a 7-year-old with the restraint and insight of a classically trained actor, which seems impossible at his young age. By the time he’s 13, we may be calling him the next Christian Bale; he’s that remarkable. Wiseman’s emotionally intimate relationship with Australian actress Essie Davis is so authentic, we accept the supernatural element as part of this family drama. The film’s simplicity might seem thin, until you think back on how gracefully it was put together. — Jeff Schultz

 

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