The Babadook is a horror film about a widowed mother haunted by the corporeal manifestation of her unwillingness to deal with past trauma. Simply put, The Babadook is a film about the boogey-man.
Amelia, played by Essie Davis, becomes increasingly frazzled by, her elementary-school-aged son, Sam’s obsession with monsters. Sam, played by Noah Wiseman— who is both terrifying and endearing in his own right, spends his time at home and in school creating elaborate weapons and traps to protect his mother from whatever evils may be lurking.
One evening, Sam pulls a mysterious book with no publication information from his bedroom shelf and has his mother read it to him. The morbid pop-up book tells of a horrifying figure, called the Babadook, who comes into people’s homes and overtakes them. From there, the Babadook becomes more and more real as he terrifies Amelia and Sam, thus forcing them to band together and defeat him through the power of love.
This film appeals to me for a very specific reason… If one were to edit out all of the supernatural Babadook mumbo jumbo, or chalk it up to a fever dream, the story would be completely plausible in real life. It’s simply a story about a befuddled mother attempting to deal with her hyper-imaginative son while pushing down the pain of past trauma. This could have easily been a story about my mother (minus the trauma… and with an even cuter son).
While I tend not to think about it too much, this film reminds me of the unseen spiritual activity that goes on around us every day. I remember once, a newfound friend (who was/is very into supernatural dealings) recalled to me his conversion to Christianity. The story consisted of car chases and spiritual warfare, very similar to The Babadook. It was an action packed story indeed. But when all of the paranormal action was pared away, his was a common story of a man battling with himself over the decision to change his life.
If you believe in God, if you believe in angels and demons, then you believe in some pretty weird stuff… stuff that we are not privileged to take notice of on a day-to-day basis. Films like The Babadook allow us to ‘peel back the curtain’ and take a look at what is perhaps happening behind the scenes.
Whenever a person is forced to deal with inner pain, or one must make a life changing conversion, or an addict struggles to snuff out a cigarette or put down a bottle… there might be something more going on… something for which we may need the love of God and others to overcome.