Amelia (Essie Davis), who lives with her small son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) in the Adelaide suburbs, hasn’t recovered from the death of her husband in a car accident six years earlier. Samuel is hyperactive and not easy to deal with and Amelia, who works in a home for the elderly, is having difficulty finding carers for him. Samuel discovers a book, Mr. Babadook, with a bright red cover and sinister pop-up drawings inside. He persuades his mother to read it to him, and in doing so she unwittingly unleashes the Babadook, who becomes an evil presence in the house. In her first film, Kent demonstrates how to make a chillingly effective horror movie on a small budget, and the result is greatly superior to most American productions made on a similar scale and with similar intentions. Davis is superb as the increasingly terrified mother, and young Wiseman gives a really remarkable performance as the troubled, at times demonic, child. Kent creates horror through suggestion, not through boringly explicit imagery, and the result is one of the creepiest, most satisfying movies of its type of any nationality in quite a while.
Festival guest: Kristina Ceyton