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The Babadook

The most effective horror films are those relying on silence. There’s no need for a bombastic, loud music score or tons of CGI to create scares. Fears taken from the mind and the quiet edge of madness waiting to erupt can be far scarier. Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, the lower budgeted Australian movie received high acclaim in 2014. It’s easy seeing why due to the endlessly atmospheric script and amazing performances sure to haunt you long after the end credits roll.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a widow exhausted looking after her hyperactive young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Trying her best to raise him, she is continually perplexed by his irrational fears. One of them is fictional story-book Mister Babadook, a creature preying on those who accept his evil presence. When sinister events start happening, Amelia and Samuel are put in grave danger as the Babadook’s claws reach from beyond the deathly shadows.

Like many good films in the genre, ‘The Babadook’ can be enjoyed on several levels. Primarily it’s about grief and its consequences. When a sudden loss occurs, a period of personal stagnation can happen. While Amelia loves her son, her unending grief prevents her from functioning as best as possible. The Babadook represents her powerful grief as its black shadow increases the more she grieves. Davis and Wiseman give fantastic performances, conveying genuine emotional range.

‘The Babadook’ doesn’t forget to be scary amidst its themes. It heavily relies on a chilling atmosphere with only the occasional slice of CGI thrown in. Kent shows commanding use of camera techniques and uses the urban environs in which the characters live to good use. It’s a credit to her craftmanship she doesn’t rely on cheap ‘jump scares’ with her determination to deliver true thrills evident.

All involved should be proud of ‘The Babadook’. Those liking these types of movies should be in their spooky element. It’s worth checking out especially at night where these films come alive as much as ‘The Babadook’s deadly embrace.

Rating out of 10: 8

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The Invisible Man

The mark of a good story is how it can be adapted for modern audiences. Even though it was written by H.G. Welles in 1897, ‘The Invisible Man’ has seen many film versions. The most famous was the 1933 Claude Raines Universal horror movie that spawned numerous sequels. ‘The Invisible Man’ 2020 style echoes its forebears in successfully delivering a new twist on a classic tale.

Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is trapped in an abusive relationship with her scientist boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Fleeing from his clutches, she makes a new life for herself with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and friend James (Aldis Hodge). Events suddenly take a mysterious turn when a deadly force threatens Cecilia’s existence. Confronted by an unseen enemy, she becomes determined to survive the ordeal before her life vanishes into thin air.

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell, ‘The Invisible Man’ is an assured production. Top of the list is its ability to craft genuine scares out of mundane situations. Instead of eliciting boredom or knowing expectations, Whannell uses the power of suggestion and silence to create a feeling of lingering terror. Thankfully free of false jump scares or too much gore, the script harks back to the 1930’s ‘Invisible Man’ movies as more of a psychological thriller than a non-stop horror-fest.

‘The Invisible Man’ also works due to Moss’ excellent performance. Her vulnerability and strength are expertly shown, making for a believable heroine. Whilst her co-stars are equally strong, Moss’s presence is an anchor to which the story clings. The moody cinematography and ethereal score keep the spooky atmosphere on a consistent high until the final reel.

A solid chiller you don’t see too often, ‘The Invisible Man’ is a welcome scary movie. Although not entirely without fault, it provides the drama and scares viewers need. Whannell knows the genre well and it will be interesting to see where his ghoulish talents end up next.

Rating out of 10: 7