Director: David F. Sandberg
Running Time: 81 Minutes
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank
Not a complicated plot by any means of the imagination, we meet a broken family (Rebecca, Martin, Sophie and Paul). Paul is killed under strange circumstances, and Martin and Sophie mourn his death. Martin (Gabriel Bateman) misses his father but is also being terrorised by something that goes bump in the dark (not always at night). The situation at home becomes so unbearable that he is unable to sleep and ends up in the nurses office at school with a social worker, waiting for his big sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer).
Sophie (Maria Bello) has suffered with depression for most of her life and has been so drastically affected by her husband’s death that she is off her meds. If it were all in her head, why would Martin be affected and why does Rebecca have memories of Diana too?
Performances & Special Effects
The casting was the strength of this film. Each person played their role to perfection. My personal favourite performances were that of Gabriel Bateman and Alexander DiPersia (Bret). Bateman’s expressive face made for tense and entertaining viewing, while DiPersia’s character’s ingenuity and understated calm was refreshing. Maria Bello gave a compelling view of mental illness and the affects that it can have on an individual.
The special effects where pretty simple but I especially loved that you see the monster, Diana, frequently. This is not a film that expects the viewer to fill in the blanks all the time. Some things were subtle while others were very much in your face.
I’ve missed fun horror, and this was a fun horror. It was scary and had many many jump scares but it was refreshing to see characters with brains and common sense. There were moments when the entire cinema was cheering for a protagonist to survive and clapping when the monster didn’t succeed. The creative use of certain items where heavily applauded and the exceptional building of tension made for a few hysterical incidents while watching this with a packed crowd.
As a directorial debut, I think that Sandberg did extremely well. You can see the Wan influence but it was decidedly Sandberg offering. I look forward to future films from him.His monster was fantastic. I loved the way Diana moved and her general stylisation. I’m sure that I could poke a hundred holes in the plot but this was not the purpose of this film. It wasn’t meant to be a meaningful insight into mental illness or family dynamics. It was meant to scare the shit out of the audience. Moreover, there was no tedious backstory, wasting 40 minutes of the run time. You’re thrown right in at the start.
By the end of it, I had decided that this was what The Babadook was meant to be, without the monochromatic pallet and dreary set dressing. I would absolutely recommend this for group viewing, in the dark, with not electronic devices on hand to use as a distraction.
My rating: 4/5
Also see the original short film, also directed by David F. Sandberg, which was the inspiration for this feature length film.