Jennifer Kent’s first feature-length film, The Babadook, is an absolute stunner of a horror film. As it turned three this past January, and its supernatural star recently became an LGBT Pride icon, we felt it only necessary to take a look back on the deeper meaning woven throughout this low-budget breakout film.
Not only does Jennifer Kent set out to terrify the audience with a topic that is extremely close to people’s hearts, but she uncovers a subject that most people like to bury in the back yard and pretend it doesn't exist. Every inch of this film is riddled with allegorical expression,which purposefully drives home Kent's overarching message. Let's take a look back at #TheBabadook just below the surface.
Samuel: A Reminder Of What Was Lost
Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son Samuel's (Noah Wiseman) stressful household life is evident from the very first scene. Although Samuel may have good intentions, his constant antics begin to wear Amelia down so much so that it is hard not to feel bad for her. There is also the added stress that Samuel was born the same day Amelia lost her husband. In that sense, Samuel will always remind Amelia of the love she tragically lost. This all compounds Amelia’s visible depression, where Samuel’s constant outbursts and erratic behavior are direct representations of anxiety for both Amelia and Samuel. This situation is all too real to many single parents in the world, as well as children raised by them.
There is also the fact that, for people who struggle with anxiety, the behavior that Samuel is expressing is all too real. His constant outbursts are a direct result of the ways in which his mother and many other people are treating him. Unfortunately, Samuel acts as the scapegoat for his mother's frustrations, characterizing Samuel as being in a constant state of anxiety. This is the same feelings that many people deal with everyday.
Mister Babadook: A Vengeful Entity
Mister Babadook is most evidently an allegory for depression, sadness and immeasurable grief. The more Amelia denies him the more powerful he becomes, which could not be truer for the real-life emotions that Mister Babadook represents. The more you repress these very real feelings the more likely they are to completely take over and control your life.
Amelia And Her Conquest
Although laced with extremely somber tones, The Babadook posses an important question: “If we do not deal with the problems and emotions at hand, will they eventually take us over?” The film also shows Amelia's rise, demonstrating that learning to live with your illnesses will make you a stronger person in the end. We see Amelia rise up, conquer Mister Babadook and learn to treat her son better. All of this shows that anyone dealing with a destructive mental illness can learn to conquer it and eventually become a healthier person.
The Babadook is an absolutely terrifying film that displays mental illness with such believable verisimilitude that it is hard not to put yourself in Amelia's shoes. I applaud Jennifer Kent and her film at bringing multiple illnesses that so many struggle with on a daily basis into light.
With Mister Babadook recently becoming an LGBT Pride icon, hopefully more people will look back at this film and really analyze its allegorical expression and meaning, as its commentary is extremely relevant to all that is going on in the world today.
What other important social messages did you find when watching The Babadook?