The Babadook, starring Essie Davis, begins filming in SA

Psychological-thriller The Babadook, starring Essie Davis, has begun filming in South Australia.

It marks the debut feature film from writer/director Jennifer Kent and follows a single mother who battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, only to discover a sinister presence all around her.

As well as Davis (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries; The Slap; cloudstreet), the film also stars Daniel Henshall (Snowtown), Hayley McElhinney, Ben Winspear and six-year-old Noah Wiseman. In a statement, Davis said she was ready to tackle the complex role.

"It's such a complex, intense and intriguing character to be playing and a lot of responsibility to carry a film like this, but I've known director Jennifer Kent for 20 years now so I'm totally ready to surrender and take the plunge with her into this incredible and terrifying world."

The Babadook was inspired by Kent's short horror film, Monster, and developed at the Binger Lab in Amsterdam with assistance from Screen NSW, Screen Australia, Waking Dreams Productions, the Screen Australia Enterprise Program and experienced Australian producer Jan Chapman. It won the Talent Highlight Pitch Award at the Berlinale Co-production Market in February 2011.

The film is being produced by Kristian Moliere and Kristina Ceyton. "Our team are committed to creating a new and captivating visual world," Ceyton said in a statement, "and with the expected powerhouse performances from Essie Davis and the amazing new talent of six year-old Noah Wiseman in his feature film debut, we are very confident that The Babadook will be a visually arresting, deeply frightening, moving and unforgettable film."

The Babadook is the first feature film to shoot at the Adelaide Studios Sound Stages.

The film will be distributed locally by Umbrella Entertainment in 2013. International sales are being handled by eONE Entertainment, which has already pre-sold the film to the Canadian territory.