Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Babadook

When The Babadook took its rightful but confusing place as a gay icon after Netflix included it in its list of LGBT films, I had a real dilemma. I hate horror movies, but I love when everyone on the internet is joking about the same thing. As usual, my love for internet won out. It’s time for me to learn about the Babadook, a scary basement demon recently outed by Netflix.

The Babadook opens with a mom, Amelia,  dreaming about a car accident and waking up to her creepy Australian child wanting to read his favorite book. Australian children are less creepy than British children in horror movies, more than American. Fight me on it. If you were a British child, you wouldn’t have to. You’d just say something fairly innocuous like “I’m awake, mummy” and I’d run screaming.

The entire house is decorated in shades of gray and midnight, like they interior decorated for the comfort and preferences of the ghost. Demon, monster, whatever.

demon chic

Samuel (creepy-but-not-British-creepy child) tells a random supermarket lady that his “dad’s in the cemetery. He got killed driving mum to the hospital to have me.” Gay means happy and this is NOT.

Sam stands on the tip-top of a swingset while being a Babadook, I guess. Still not clear on what a Babadook is. A small white dog scratches at a locked door, which I gather is where the Babadook lives. Is it a closet??? Is the Babadook in the closet? I’m trying.

and dorothy. of you and me and dorothy.

Maybe everything is gray and colorless so it can become rainbow when the Babadook comes?? Kind of like The Wizard Of Oz… starring gay icon Judy Garland?? I’m reaching.

It turns out the Babadook is a terrifying pop-up book Sam has. For the record, they say Babadook to rhyme more with “look” than “Luke.” PLOT TWIST: the terrifying pop-up, which ends with the words “you’re going to wish you were dead,” ends up looking like a generic colorful children’s book when they pull back, and Amelia is reading a different story entirely. Amelia hides the book (rhymes with Babadook!) above her wardrobe.

Amelia watches black and white tv because that’s her aesthetic.

Sam throws firecrackers in anger.

Amelia: Where’d you get those firecrackers?

Sam: You got them for me on the internet.

Amelia: That’s the end of the internet.

Why did I love that exchange so much?

Samuel loves to play in a sequin cape,  a nod to Liberacci??

NOPE

Sam, or a Babadook, hung up an empty men’s suit on the wall and it’s very spooky. Also I KNOW that a hanging suit is, or should be, empty but that’s really the only way to describe it:

There’s glass in Amelia’s soup or thickened boiled milk that she’s eating. Sam said the Babadook did it. Maybe the real Babadook is SAM.

Sam watches an unsettling magic DVD. How does Sam keep getting these age-inappropriate forms of media? Don’t say the internet. Amelia swore off of Amazon.

Amelia goes upstairs to find the photo of her and Sam’s dad all scribbled out. Scribbled out like … bi erasure??? Guys I am so sorry but nothing’s gay yet.

At Sam’s friend Ruby’s birthday party, all of the moms wear black to look creepier for the Babadook.

In another feat of color coordination, the girl party guests wear pale pink with black accents. The party decorations are maroon, every child’s favorite color. There’s a clown because this is a horror movie, why not.

Amelia’s friend Claire doesn’t like going to Amelia’s house because it’s depressing, possibly because every surface from floor to ceiling, including the stairs and Sam’s bedroom, seems to be covered in black chalkboard paint. I really hope there’s a big reveal at the end at it was colorful all along.

Ruby taunts Sam for not having a dad. Maybe the real Babadook is CHILDREN’S CAPACITY FOR CRUELTY. Sam pushes Ruby out of a tree house which was still very unwarranted. Sam then appears to seize in the car, which makes me wonder why Sam hasn’t had a neurological and psych eval yet??

Amelia gets a new pop-up book… is something that should be a caption on a mommy blogger’s instagram, but which is actually a scene where Amelia gets a new gift from the Babadook about how the Babadook will take her over.

AHHHH. The Babadook calls Amelia on her land line and says “Babadook…dook…dook” in a croaky demon voice.

Let’s talk about acting. Essie Davis is fantastic as Amelia, who half thinks her child is losing it and half thinks she is. She’s extra fantastic in the scene where she goes to the police to report a children’s book. You can see her genuine belief that she’s correct right alongside her realization that what she’s saying sounds ridiculous. Noah Wisemen is also marvelous as Sam and he really does seem like an actual child, not a spooky horror movie child cliche. Also, this was Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut and it’s absolutely beautiful — not too scary, despite my protests against horror movies, but really thoughtful and nicely styled.

Amelia finds a hole in her kitchen wall. Beetles crawl out. She has made references to being poor but she has an expensive-looking vintage replica fridge so that doesn’t quite check out.

The Australian child Sam watches on TV sounds so much more Australian than Sam.

SHIIIIIT. The Babadook sneaks into Amelia’s bedroom by way of creaky door and croaks “Babadook…dook…dook” again. He kind of stop-motions around on the ceiling for a bit. Amelia has an outfit, complete with hat, on a mannequin in her bedroom. What is WITH this family? Anyway, it was a “dream” but surely it wasn’t really.

In keeping with her aesthetic, Amelia watches a black-and-white silent film that looks kind of like A Trip To The Moon, except with Babadooks all up in it.

this is why i don’t have cable

Amelia shouts at Sam to “eat shit,” but I’m certain that’s just the Babadook or the mean older brother in a John Hughes movie talking.

Amelia: 1. crashes a car because the Babadook was Babadook-dook-dooking her; 2. takes a bath fully clothed; 3. attempts to nap while cuddling a violin; 4. tromps around her house with a butcher knife; 5. forces Sam to take pills; 6. watches aesthetically-consistent black and white cartoons.

The dog won’t hang with Amelia, which is how we can be sure she’s harboring the Babadook.

SPOOOOKY. Amelia watches a news report about a woman who stabbed her 7-year-old to death; cut to Amelia in the news report looking out her window with an eerie frozen smile. NOPE NOPE NOPE. This is neither about the Babadook or the Gay Babadook, but when I was little my brother used to open my bedroom door and stare with an eerie frozen smile while singing that circus song, which was some clever sibling bullying. It’s a tattle-proof trick. “Mom, Matt’s smiling and singing!”

Amelia’s dead husband is in the basement. He’s surely a Babadook. He says “bring me the boy” in increasingly Babadookish tones.

Amelia kills the small white dog 😦  Then she Babadook-floats at Sam, who says she isn’t his mother and throws a firecracker and some darts at her.

The kind, elderly neighbor comes over and says that she knows this time of year is hard for Amelia. Maybe the real Babadook is HOW SAD SHE IS.

Sam brings a knife down on his mother with the most unsettling confused grimace/smile.

After some stuff, Amelia voms a black tar-like substance so who knows, maybe the real Babadook is an intestinal bleed and a bowel obstruction.

Amelia relives her husband’s gory death, and tells the Babadook that he’s nothing and not welcome in her house. The Babadook goes back to the basement. The real Babadook is grief and PTSD, just like I’ve been saying this entire time.

Almost right away, Amelia’s hair is MUCH fluffier, and a birthday banner is hung in the living room. They speak freely about Sam’s dad. Ruby was Sam’s… cousin? Which I did not realize. They feed the Babadook worms in the basement, because they somehow learned that he eats worms. The Babadook, which is grief, will always exist in their lives but that doesn’t mean it’s always invited to the party.

Sam does a worryingly good magic trick.

Fine.

Okay, so I still don’t know why the Babadook is gay but he doesn’t owe me an explanation. The Babadook is more than just gay, he’s also a basement grief-demon who eats worms and hangs suits up. I hope he has fun at all the parades and parties!

 

 

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One thought on “Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Babadook

  1. Pingback: Pop Culture Blind Spot: Teen Wolf (1985) | Cookies + Sangria

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