US critics hail The Babadook as a Halloween treat

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook launched in the US on DirecTV last Friday, hailed by several critics as among the most outstanding horror movies of the year and by one enthusiast as one of the genre’s top 25 this century.

The horror movie starring Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman is available to rent or buy on the US streaming service, starting at $US9.99, one month before it premieres in cinemas in around 10 cities via IFC Midnight.

In the UK distributor Icon showed its confidence by broadening the film from 147 to 237 locations in its second weekend, ringing up £294,000 ($A540,000) , which lifts the total to a nifty £964,000 ($AI.77 million).

As IF has noted, the UK haul has already eclipsed the Australian B.O. of $258,000.

Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells responded to The Babadook as a “a brilliant, slow-burning psychological horror film made in a kind of German expressionist mode… which is significantly more effective than The Shining in telling a story of dark spirits overtaking the mind and soul of a parent and leading to evil impulses.”

Wells added, “It’s also a descendant of Rosemary’s Baby in the way it takes its time, really burrows into character, doesn’t heap it on too heavily, and relies almost entirely on in-camera strategies.”

Thompson on Hollywood’s Ryan Lattanzio highlighted the South Australian-shot film among eight independent horror titles available to stream alongside Justin Kurzel's Snowtown and classics such as Nicolas Roeg's Don’t Look Now.

Studio System News’ Dina Gachman named Kent as one of 10 horror directors to watch, observing, “Kent, who started out acting (she’s in Babe: Pig in the City, of all things), became an overnight sensation at Sundance last January when The Babadook screened in the Park City at Midnight section of the fest.

“A spooky monster movie that’ll have you white knuckling it ‘til the bitter end, it’s about a single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, who battles her son’s fear of monsters, only to discover there just may be a sinister presence in the house.”

The Babadook features in The Playlist’s list of the 25 best horror films of the 21st Century, in such exalted company as The Others, Black Swan, 28 Days Later…, Mulholland Drive, Cabin in the Woods and The Orphanage.

The Playlist noted, “The Babadook has been freaking out audiences on the festival circuit and elsewhere in the world for months now, and already seems to be settling into a position as an instant genre classic. The debut film of Australian director Jennifer Kent, it stars Essie Davis as Amelia, a woman left distraught after the sudden death of her husband, and now having to care for her son (Noah Wiseman), who's acting out in his own grief.

“The film’s virtually a three hander, and while the Babadook is one of the most memorable movie monsters in years, it’s the performances of the human leads that really haunt you (in a just world, we’d be talking about Davis as an Oscar contender). The film hits at the end of November: be sure to check.”