Mining terrifying themes of maternal instincts, debut writer-director Kent’s cerebral spook story marks her as a talent to watch. Essie Davis is extraordinary as recently widowed Amelia, who's struggling to juggle the responsibility of young son Samuel’s behavioural issues while maintaining her job and their home. But when Samuel starts interacting with seemingly imaginary creature the Babadook, things get much more sinister than simply making ends meet.
Refreshing for several reasons – not least for having the balls to offer a child protagonist who is a genuine little shit – Kent's picture has all the requisite creepy atmosphere of your standard possessed-home flick, but its trump card is an almost unbearable dread born of its smartly handled ambiguity. Is there an evil spectre in here? Could Amelia actually be doing this all herself? Is it a bit of both? A mother harming her child is a thought so appalling it doesn’t require additional theatricality, so that Kent makes it all work and actually manages to instil some humour too is testament to her skill. [Chris Fyvie]