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The Babadook: Metaphors in the Dark

The first thing that one could realize after watching, The Babadook is that it is not a horror movie. One could view it as a subversive, deep dive into ideas of grief, loneliness, troubled desperation and an inability to cope with reality. But, as most horror movies go, both are true, you silly movie watcher you.

Using the titular character as an allegory for the deep-seeded, unnerving emotions rattling around our protagonist’s brain, it is never revealed whether said monster is in fact real or not. The audience is left to their own devices (and past understandings of the evidence shown) to answer the question the film so subtlety asks: how do you rid yourself of something you unknowingly let in, be it a monster of doubt or an unstable emotion that threatens to destroy everything around you?

The answer presented to the audience for consideration at the closing moments of the film, is that you never rid yourself of it. You fight to kill it, you try to distance yourself from it, but you’ll never be rid of it. It stays with you forever, for it is a part of you and you are just as much a part of it. The best you can do is to lock it in a basement, feed it from time to time, and take the bad days as willingly as the good ones come.

Jennifer Kent’s film is paced with the surgical precision of just that: slowly slicing away at the obvious to reveal the meat and the bone of the underlining story. Our protagonist’s journey ventures from docile and weak to overly paranoid and extremely dangerous, only to fall back, after acceptance to a more comfortable docile and stronger sense of what she thought was weak.


Mike Burdge

Founder of and programmer for Story Screen. Lover of stories and pizza in the dark. When he isn't watching movies, you can find him reading things about people watching movies. He lives in Beacon, NY with his cat who is named after Kevin Bacon's character from Friday the 13th.




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