“Who thinks up a film like The Babadook? Actress-turned-debuting-feature-director Jennifer Kent has the narrative chutzpah to show her entire hand in the pop-up story and then make us squirm as foretold events come true. The Babadook is femalecentric in ways that other horror movies, while often dominated by tough ‘final girls,’ rarely are. It’s a tale in which the real terror might have already happened; parents should brace themselves.

“On purely formal grounds (the ones on which the genre lives or dies), Kent is a natural. She favors crisp compositions and unfussy editing, transforming the banal house itself into a subtle, shadowy threat. You’re not going to be sprung out of your seat by an overzealous sound designer, and when the beast shows up (a wild creation of puppetry, stop-motion animation and suggestive noises), it’s possible to be equally as riveted by Davis’s mouse-turned-lioness performance, tearing into the territory of Cate Blanchett.

“How Kent will follow up such a commanding first film is uncertain, but if her goal is to help steer horror toward a rigorous, non-digital realm for serious artists (a welcome trend seen in last summer’s The Conjuring), her work is already done.” — from a 1.23.14 review by Time Out‘s Josh Rothkopf.