“THE BABADOOK” (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
To some, including this writer, THE BABADOOK was one of the genuine masterpieces of macabre cinema last year, providing a near perfect balance of psychological horror and creature feature. To others, THE BABADOOK was a victim of a loudly whirring hype machine, offering a horror tale whose straightforward scares were disappointing to a fault. In that way, THE BABADOOK has posited itself as a film that there’s very little middle ground towards, and with the film now on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, the rest of the world at large will get a chance to experience THE BABADOOK for themselves, as well as get an insight on how THE BABADOOK came to be.
For fans of THE BABADOOK, the first piece of good news is that Scream Factory has absolutely delivered when it comes to the film’s audio and video transfer. For a film that was already gorgeous in its clean and crisp digital cinematography, Scream Factory has given the film an even more gorgeous presentation, offering the sharpest and most engrossing version of the film to date. The film’s audio mix is also impressive, featuring a dynamic range that will gladly pay off further to those with impressive home stereo systems. And the film also comes with impressive packaging as well, with the limited edition featuring a pop-up cover that fans of the film will be sure to cherish, especially among collectors.
But even more rewarding to fans and newcomers alike are the excellent features on the set, including Jennifer Kent’s short film that inspired THE BABADOOK, entitled MONSTER. MONSTER will likely be the highlight of the set for many, offering some familiar moments from THE BABADOOK in a significantly different experience. For instance, MONSTER takes place entirely in black and white (and will likely inspire a future Shadowvision for this writer) and has some scary moments completely of its own making, including a silent, slow motion sequence before the titular terror attacks that will send goosebumps down even the most hardened horror fans. And even on a level of basic fascination, MONSTER provides so many blueprints for everything in the film, including the Babadook creature itself, that its genuinely cool to see the seed of Kent’s concept beginning to blossom.
However, that’s not to say the rest of Scream Factory’s set is less impressive. The set features a couple deleted scenes, which shows further into Amelia’s dealings with Sam in public, including his expulsion from school and her relationship to her concerning neighbor. It also has a pair of extremely brief yet revealing featurettes regarding the stunts and SFX of the film, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette that works as a “slice of life” view of Kent and Co. in action. But perhaps the best of the other features are the in-depth and lengthy cast and crew interviews, getting the personal insights of the performers and filmmakers involved in THE BABADOOK as to their stories, experiences and character motivations, which will appeal greatly to information sponges like myself.
To be completely candid, this writer is a huge fan of THE BABADOOK, having listed it as the second best horror film of 2014 and found it to be scary on a completely invasive level, so this set would possibly be worth it for the film alone. Kent’s work as a director, especially in her feature debut, proves herself as not only a talent to watch but a visionary director, one with an innate understanding of how to get under your skin in more ways that one. And by playing with the elements of reality and fantasy, THE BABADOOK is a terrifying experience that adds a monster to the horror lexicon that some might already be elevating to icon status.
As a whole, Scream Factory pulls no punches with its first release in their partnership with IFC Midnight, providing a set that is as impressive as the film contained within it. Fans of THE BABADOOK will truly get to see the genesis of the project, from its making-of aspects as well as the short that directly inspired the film. And for those who consider themselves casual fright fans will be able to see the film at its most gorgeous, offering a pristine 1080p transfer that will impress those who even saw the film in its HD DCP release.