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Movie Review

'The Babadook' Will Chill Your Blood

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The new Australian horror cheapie The Babadook got a test run at the Palace West a couple weekends ago and went over well enough that it's been booked into a full run at the Palace, and lovers of horror movies should not miss it.

Essie Davis plays a young widow with a seven-year-old son who is, to say the least, troubled. They live in a grey old house with something else, supposedly something connected to a children's book I hope somebody publishes, full of awful-looking charcoal drawings of skulls and corpses and a creature you can just barely make out called "Mr. Babadook."

You can just barely make out suggestions of him in the house, too-- he wears a top hat and has long, clawlike fingers and what may be a face resembling Lon Chaney, Sr., the horror movie star, in his lost movie London After Midnight.

But you can just barely catch suggestions of him, in doorways and dark corners, and you can't be sure he isn't a hallucination. Because both the mother and the son are apparently going mad.

The seven-year-old starts out as just a super-demanding brat with a streak of violence, who won't give his mother a moment's peace and keeps home-making weapons that can be really dangerous. But he senses monsters in the house and his terror infects his mother. She appeals to various authorities for help, but they range from the incompetent to the positively Dickensian, and she comes to realize she has to face the Babadook, whatever he is, alone. And I'll let you guess what happens after that, because you won't guess it right.

The Babadook is sort of like Robert Wise's The Haunting, and somewhat like poltergeist movies, but mostly it's in a class by itself, and if you are susceptible to movie terrors, it'll chill your blood.