It’s almost a slur to call Jennifer Kent‘s The Babadook (IFC Midnight, 11.28, theatrical/VOD) a “midnight movie” by virtue of it being an IFC Midnight release. It’s much better than that. It’s not just about a widowed mom (Essie Davis) and a young son (Noah Wiseman) being spooked by a gothy, top-hat-wearing, needle-fingered goblin but the emotional and psychological roots of this haunting and a gradual, careful accumulation of believability, chills and force. It’s one of those restrained, character-driven, less-is-much-much-more horror films that pop up once in a blue moon — a mix of Polanski’s Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby plus Juan Antonio Bayona‘s The Orphanage plus a dab or two of F.W. Murnau‘s Nosferatu. Almost everything in-camera, super-meticulous design, no cheap jolts, no conventional gore to speak of…but scary as hell. As I said last week, it’s significantly more effective than Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining in telling a story of dark spirits overtaking the mind and soul of a parent and leading to evil impulses. Is Kent the first woman director to really score big-time in this realm? The Babadook opened in England on 10.24 with a 96% RT rating. Here’s an interview with Kent in a recent issue of Film Comment.