New Movie Spotlight: The Babadook Will Scare You Witless

We highlight the single best new film playing in Philadelphia this week.

Title: The Babadook

Genre: Psychological Horror

Logline: It’s Hide and Seek meets Jumanji

What’s the deal? This Aussie horror flick from writer/director Jennifer Kent, making her feature debut, has absolutely slayed the critics ever since it premiered at Sundance in January. The story concerns a young mother (Essie Davis) who’s still dealing with the violent death of her husband and trying to assuage the fears of her young son (Noah Wiseman). Her son believes there to be a terrifying boogeyman stalking them in the house, who came shortly after he read a mysterious children’s book about the nefarious character. It has pretty much been universally hailed, and both Stephen Rea of the Inquirer, and Sam Adams of Indiewire have fallen all over themselves in praise of it. Psychological horror such as this is one of the trickiest films to pull off, but when it’s done right—as this certainly appears to have been—it’s just about the most satisfying experience you can have in the cinema.

Sample Dialogue: “You can’t get rid of the Babadook.”

Why Should I Go? Because you’re already sick of the treacle and mirth of the holiday movie season, and you really, truly want to be scared witless, and/or you have a thing about super-creepy children’s books you wish to explore.

Interesting Detail: Fans of the film can actually buy a copy of The Babadook book in question (no, really, they’re making them now) by checking out the film’s website. It will make the perfect stocking stuffer—if you are a tremendously demented parent.

Playing Now: The PFS Roxy, 2023 Sansom Street. The PFS Roxy will also be hosting a special screening of The Babadook, tonight, Friday, Dec. 5, at 6:30, introduced by noted horror-critic Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg).

Piers Marchant is a film critic and writer based in Philly.Find more confounding amusements and diversions at his blog, Sweet Smell of Success, or read his further 142-character rants and ravings at @kafkaesque83.