The Babadook is a film I’ve never got round to seeing before now, so what better way than with this new 4K Special Edition.
It opens with a car accident, on the way to the hospital, leaving the father of the family, Oskar (Ben Winspear), dead just as mum Amelia (Essie Davis – Mindhorn, Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams: Human Is) is about to give birth. Then zoom forward a few years, and boisterous son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is on the verge of his seventh birthday, the pair already having a rather fractured relatioship because of the events which led to his birth.
The lad likes nursery rhymes before bed, but then one night, he finds a book entitled “Mister Babadook“, but his mum’s concerned it’s a bit scary for him, and despite her doing her best efforts to make it inaccessible, it seems his ever-increasing obsession will always ensure it finds a way to return, driving his mother to distraction.
In addition, he’s forever seting his mother on edge by creating all kinds of violent contraptions, in a bid to ensure The Babadook doesn’t bother them, despite Amelia’s insistence that the character is not real, and thus is just a part of his overactive imagination.
Note that the book says you can’t get rid of the Babadook, so how can that be achieved? Whatever happens, it’s going to be a loud and gory ride!
The Babadook occasionaly has ‘Shining‘ vibes going on, plus always a great score which perfectly creates the tension of a headache kicking in. There’s lots of things going bump in the night, and perhaps Amelia’s just a tad on the stressed side, as well? (and by a tad, I mean, A LOT!) Not least, because she looks genuinely terrified!
There are certainly many films that throw in a load of weird stuff and jump scares, but this one is much better than most. However, composer Jed Kurzel describes the film as NOT one with jump-scares, but instead, with an “uneasy mood”. Okay, I can go with that.
Also, prior to the madness kicking in, we see Amelia working in a care home, alongside Robbie (Daniel Henshall – Snowtown), who has a thing for her.
Oh, and while watching this late at night, before bedtime, I realised this is NOT the sort of film to watch late at night, before bedtime!
On a personal note, in getting scared from something in print, when I was a kid, Sam, my sister would buy the Misty comic. Once there was a story where a woman ended up trapped in a mirror, and it absolutely FREAKED ME OUT! Sam wasn’t very impressed when I asked my Dad to deal with that, and he tore out the corner of the page where it showed up, and burnt it on the BBQ!
The film is presented in the original 2.39:1 widescreen ratio, in 4K on a single disc, and the picture looks absolutely stunning, and as I mentioned about the fact this is NOT a film to watch before bedtime, that, combined with the score, should tell you all you need to know about the DTS HD 5.1 audio!
Now, I know the specification for 4K Blu-ray discs originally meant that they HAD to include a regular Blu-ray (which can push up the price by a few quid, since anyone buying a 4K Blu-ray disc MUST have a 4K Blu-ray player, otherwiser they’d just buy the regular Blu-ray), but recently, I’ve seen a couple of 4Ks with NO regular Blu-ray, including this one, so the spec must’ve changed?
The extras are as follows:
- This Is My House! An interview with Essie Davis (26:07): As well as talking about the film, and working with Noah Wiseman (Samuel), Essie Davis also discusses how she met writer/director Jennifer Kent while she was at University, and how Ms Kent wanted to write a film for Essie. In fact, she also mentions The Shining, but doesn’t consider The Babadook as a scary film. I beg to differ, at times 🙂
She also touches on the lack of publicity put out by the film company.
Mixing film clips with the conversation, there are no subtitles on the extras, unfortunately.
- The Sister: Interview with Hayley McElhinney (10:16): Hayley McElhinney takes the role of Claire – Amelia’s sister – her character seeing herself as much more important individual, and very condescending to Amelia.
- Don’t Let It In: Interview with Kristina Ceyton (11:54): Kristina Ceyton is one of the film’s producers, and talks about her time on the movie, ensuring the the script was honed down, plus getting the budget sorted out, and finding the right location.
- Conjuring Nightmares: Interview with Kristian Moliere (26:13): Kristian Moliere is the other main producer on the film, and also goes into detail about the logistical aspects of making a film.
- Conjuring Nightmares: Interview with Simon Njoo (14:25): Simon Njoo is the film’s editor, loved working on the film and also talks about other projectos on which he’s worked.
- If It’s In A Name Or In A Look: Interview with Alex Holmes (10:53): Alex Holmes is the production designer and talks about visual effects.
- The Bookmaker: Interview with Alexander Juhasz (19:53): The illustrator talks about how he got into that line of work, predominantly because it ran in the family. He goes to to the creation of the Mister Babadook book, and how the audience actually wanted one to actually be made!
- Ba-Ba-Ba… Dook!: Interview Jed Kurzel (14:55): Jed Kurzel talks about how he was looking for a music-related pursuit which allowed him to stay in one place rather than tour all the time, and then on to how he also scored the soundtrack for the fantastic Snowtown, directed by his brother, Justin. Jed describes the film as NOT one with jump-scares, but instead, with an “uneasy mood”.
- Monster: Short Film (10:46): In what is effectively a short version of this movie, we first see the family cat having caught a huge moth, while a young boy (also called Samuel) is running around like a tearaway, and driving his mother to despair. He claims to be “killing the monster for you”, but like any kid, he probably just has an overacting imagination… until some very weird stuff starts happening.
- Audio commentary: by film critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson.
- They Call Him Mister Babadook: The Making Of (34:59)
- There’s No Place Like Home: Creating The House (10:03)
- Special Effects: The Stabbing Scene (2:52)
- The Stunts (3:39)
- Illustrating Evil: Creating The Book (6:40)
The menu features the spooky music from the film’s theme, subtitles are in English only, and there are a basic 12 chapters.
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Second Sight Films
Released: March 28th 2022
Picture: 2160p High Definition (4K Blu-ray)
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ProRes 4:2:2 (1080p/24))
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Format: BD100
Director: Jennifer Kent
Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Kristian Moliere
Screenplay: Jennifer Kent
Music: Jed Kurzel
Amelia Vanek: Essie Davis
Samuel: Noah Wiseman
Claire: Hayley McElhinney
Robbie: Daniel Henshall
Mrs. Roach: Barbara West
Oskar: Ben Winspear
Ruby: Chloe Hurn
The Babadook: Tim Purcell
Bugsy the dog: Hachi
Beverly: Jacqy Phillips
Norma: Bridget Walters
Old Woman in Corridor: Annie Batten
Principal: Tony Mack
Teacher: Carmel Johnson
Supermarket Mum: Tiffany Lyndall Knight
Supermarket Little Girl: Lucy Hong
Checkout Chick: Sophie Riggs
Kissing Woman: Lotte Crawford
Kissing Man: Chris Roberts
Doctor: Terence Crawford
Warren Newton: Craig Behenna
Prue Flannery: Cathy Adamek
Magician: Steven Sheehan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.