The Babadook is one of the most annoying horror movies this decade, and also one of the most terrifying. It makes sense if you see it (sort of). It’s been five years since writer and director Jennifer Kent introduced the world to the Baba-dook-dook-dook, but now she’s back with The Nightingale, which trades the real-life horror of being a parent for the real-life horror of wanting revenge for the death of your husband and baby killed in 1800s Australia. Very relatable!
“I was seeing violence all around me and I’m a sensitive person and I was looking at a lot of violence and thinking, what are we doing to each other? What are we doing to ourselves? Are there other ways through this?” Kent said about the film (which debuted to positive reviews at the Venice International Film Festival, although many critics cautioned that it’s not for everyone; the word “divisive” comes up a lot). “I wanted to tell a story about the necessity of love, compassion, kindness, and empathy in a very dark time.”
Here’s the official plot summary:
Set during the colonization of Australia in 1825, The Nightingale follows Clare, a 21-year-old Irish convict. Having served her 7-year sentence, she is desperate to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins, who refuses to release her from his charge. Clare’s husband Aidan retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she is forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins. The terrain and the prevailing hostilities are frightening, as fighting between the original inhabitants of the land and its colonizers plays out in what is now known as “The Black War.” Clare and Billy are hostile towards each other from the outset, both suffering their own traumas and mutual distrust, but as their journey leads them deeper into the wilderness, they must learn to find empathy for one another, while weighing the true cost of revenge.
The Nightingale, which stars Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, and Ewan Leslie, opens on August 2.