European deal for The Babadook

The tactic of launching writer-director Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook at the Sundance Film Festival is paying off with a multi-territory deal.

Wild Bunch bought the rights for France, Germany and Switzerland to the psychological thriller which stars Essie Davis as a tormented widow who tries to deal with her son’s fear of a night-time monster and must eventually confront a sinister entity in the house.

Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West and Ben Winspear co-star.

The film has won glowing reviews since its world premiere in the festival’s Midnight section. “It's very personal, and it plays on the very real fears and anxieties of parenthood in a way that never feels "cool," but that always feels authentic,” opined Hitflix’s Drew McWeeny.

“I found the film very upsetting, and even when it ends, Kent isn't interested in letting you off the hook. Evil never just disappears, and her film seems to argue that there must be some effort made to live with the things that scare us most, since we can never simply wish them away. It's a strong, dreamy debut, and I hope Kent is just warming up.”

The deal was reported by Screen Daily, which quoted Wild Bunch rep Jerome Rougier as saying, “Incredibly scary of course but also very smart and stylish, Jennifer Kent’s film easily matches recent outstanding horror films like The Orphanage or Insidious and we couldn’t be more excited to release it.”

The Babadook was produced by South Australian Kristian Moliere of Smoking Gun Productions and Kristina Ceyton, supported by the SAFC and Screen Australia, and filmed at Adelaide Studios.

Sundance is a great venue for US deals so international sales rep eOne may well be fielding offers for the film. The Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment has not yet set a release date.