Eight years ago today, The Babadook was released in theaters, making it the perfect day to celebrate the brilliant Jennifer Kent!
Jennifer Kent is an Australian director, best known for The Babadook, which was actually her first feature film. The Babadook is a horror film about a single mother who must confront a disturbing intruder, manifested by her son’s fear of a monster in their home. The Babadook also explores grief through the lens of horror, as its protagonist deals with the death of her husband.
The film became an instant cult classic and received critical acclaim, racking up several wins such as the AACTA awards for Best Film and Best Director and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best First Film. In a review of The Babadook, FF2 Contributor Brigid Presecky says, “The cinematography and camerawork show close-up shots of tired, fearful eyes that make the viewers feel like they are equally exhausted as the mother/son duo. Although some parts were bizarre, The Babadook is impressive for its focused script, acting as a giant metaphor about either letting our demons take over our lives or learning to keep them at bay, no matter how scary it may seem.”
Jennifer also directed The Nightingale, which is an all-time favorite of the FF2 critics and could be considered her chef d’oeuvre, despite being lesser-known. Set in an 1800’s colony which is now Tasmania, The Nightingale follows a young woman, Claire, who seeks revenge against a Lieutenant who has committed terrible acts of violence against herself and her family. On her journey to find the Lieutenant, Claire enlists the help of an Indigenous man named Billy who can help her navigate the land, and has to confront her own racism against him before they can partner up to seek justice.
In a review of The Nightingale, FF2 Contributor Hannah Mayo says, “Since watching The Nightingale I can’t get it out of my head. I keep having flashbacks to the most horrible moments, but brief glimpses of the moments of exquisite and hopeful filmmaking that saturated it remind me how worth the pain this film is. I have never cried this much in a film, not by a long shot. It’s a rough watch, and your mood won’t be the same for the rest of the day after watching it. But I swear to you, the superb filmmaking and storytelling of Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale is worth the tears.”
Jennifer Kent is a profoundly talented director with a wide range who is able to explore topics of violence, racism and grief without forgetting their nuance or shying away from them one bit. In a time of continued violence that doesn’t seem to be lessening, Jennifer’s voice is needed now more than ever.
© Julia Lasker (11/28/2022) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Georgi Plys-Garzatto’s tribute to Jennifer Kent here.
Read Brigid Presecky’s review of The Babadook here.
Read Hannah Mayo’s review of The Nightingale here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: “22h51” by Camille Griner licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Bottom photo: IFC Films.