The Babadook

As usual, the Australian film industry has worn its thin skin off patting its own back in praise of a predictable, derivative mess. “The Babadook” (even the name is a yawn) has some (very) minor suspense, good acting from the major characters and awful acting from some minor characters. The script is amateurish and lazy. If this film were shorter, it might make a workmanlike student film.

Every poor horror film requires most or all of these elements:

  • A cute, shaggy pet dog. Preferably white.
  • An insect infestation.
  • A concerned and mild-mannered neighbour or work colleague of the opposite sex.
  • Ludicrously severe government officials.
  • Contemptuous police.
  • A large, unnaturally dark house; the topography of which is unclear. Curtains, a basement and lamp-lit corners are mandatory.
  • A large-eyed, unsmiling child making unsettling appearances, arms straight at the sides.
  • A struggling single mother fighting the cruel world in defence of her troubled darling.
  • A comparison between said poor but decent single mother and pampered monied mothers.
  • Something odd being disgorged by a major character.
  • Snippets of scarey old black and white cartoons and films.
  • Shots of a large tree.
  • A vulnerable child being bullied to breaking point by another child while oblivious adults make pointed conversation nearby.
  • Someone shoots backwards up the stairs.
  • A character slams a door shut against something scarey, and shuffles backwards across the floor on their haunches (no-one really does that).
  • An item left on the doorstep.

This film has every one of these, plus others which I cannot mention because they would serve as “spoilers” – as if you didn’t already know them all. The worst thing is, it’s not even unintentionally funny.

Even the cat was bored by The Babadook

The TVC cat couldn’t keep his eyes open during The Babadook


  1. Reply


    February 13, 2015

    I think perhaps that as an AU indy film it suffered from lack of promotion and so the internet filled the void and overhyped it as an unfound treasure. As such we saw initial reviews on RT and IMDB around 9/10 but has now dropped to under 7 as the shine wears off.
    So TVC seeing clearly through the marketing here but 1.5 stars is a bit harsh (perhaps).

    Would love to know what movies in the genre (Australian or otherwise) TVC think deserve over 4 stars…

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      February 17, 2015

      Thank you for your perceptive comment, SPK. Yes, the initial reviews for The Babadook are a fine example of the modern over-correction of the skid into the old cultural cringe. These days, if an Australian crew actually manage to get something recorded, it is automatically brilliant and special. We at TVC cannot think of too many good Australian films in the horror genre. Certainly Love Serenade, The Cars that Ate Paris, Wake in Fright and A Little Bit of Soul are magnificent, original films - but are they horror? Picnic at Hanging Rock is beyond compare - but again, what genre is it? And yes, I did consider giving The Babadook a generous 2 stars, but changed my mind when I considered that it had driven me to the excessive use of possibly unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.

  2. Reply

    Not David Stratton

    September 14, 2015

    If you want a good, nasty, Australian thriller beyond the pyrotechnics of, say 'Mad Max' or 'Wolf Creek', try 'Weekend of Shadows', 'Dead Calm' or, though not really Australian, 'Open Water'.

  3. Reply

    Smug of Glebe

    April 26, 2016

    The Babadook looks like a sculpture by Inge King!

  4. Reply

    Bert Fremont

    May 30, 2016

    This list is merely the cliches that appear in the film, not a list of reasons why it is a bad film. A cliche can be effective if it is presented well, which The Babadook does. People aren't applauding it because of it's highly original script, they are applauding the tone, the aesthetics, and the fact that it has a meaning behind it.

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