Jennifer Kent’s Australian horror film “The Babadook” is bound to enthrall those who see it for, unlike in most contemporary horror films, that which terrorizes us is suggested rather than being blatantly represented on screen.
“The Babadook” follows Samuel, a young boy with a grand imagination who becomes obsessed with a monster from one of his pop-up books The Babadook which he forces his mother into reading it to him one night before bed. The parent, Amelia, a former children book’s writer and a grieving widower, becomes increasingly irritated with her son’s behavior as a result of his constant fear of the Babadook. That is, until the monster’s presence reveals itself as more than a fictitious being.
Whether or not it was the intent of writer/director Jennifer Kent to create a monster who would share such similarities with a contemporary monster by the name of Slender Man is unknown. The Slender Man’s silhouette resembles the Babadook’s with its elongated arms and legs. The Slender Man has been the topic of numerous articles over the last couple of months in relation to young girls whose murderous rampage were said to be the result of the monster’s evil influence on them.
It is believed that writing can be therapeutic. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear that the Babadook isn’t just a monster that haunts little kids but is in fact an allegorical representation of Amelia’s grief over her husband Oskar’s death and the resentment she feels, unconsciously, towards her son, a boy whose presence she blames for his death. It is implied that Amelia is the writer of the pop-up book, which suggests why the loss of her husband, and the resentment against her son, has resulted in her creation of the Babadook which she must now tame. The end of the movie shows the Babadook as living in the cellar and as being tied down as though a pet. Every day Amelia enters the cellar to feed the monster but she never lets him lose. It is the part of herself she has learned to control in a way.
If we see the Babadook as an allegorical figure of Amelia’s grief, then the act of taming the monster allows her to come to terms with her husband’s death. Moreover, conquering the monster puts a stop to her placing blame for Oskar’s death on her son. In this way, The Babadook leaves us with a positive outlook for its mother and son relationship.
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FESTIVAL NEWS: “The Babadook” was a huge hit with the press at the last Sundance Festival.
DID YOU KNOW? This film was nearly entirely funded through a Kickstarter campaign.