Today Mr. Squigglekins and I watched The Babadook at the Cinefamily Silent Movie theater in West Hollywood. The film is about a widowed mother who discovers her rambunctious son is telling the truth about a monster who has entered their home through the pages of a children’s book. Relying on traditional suspense (flickering lights, camera facing the darkness), music, and a Tim Burtonesque monster, the film is scary, but it’s also an emotional story about a widow coming to grips with single motherhood and grieving about her dead husband.
The grieving mother, Amelia, has difficulty mothering her son, Samuel, because of his overactive imagination and abundance of energy. He gets scared easily and often goes into Amelia’s room so that she could comfort him. One night Amelia tells Samuel to choose a book they can read together, and Samuel chooses a mysterious book called The Babadook. Little do they know that a monster is lurking in the book pages that is ready to overtake both of them. When unusual things start happening, such as glass in their dinner soup, Samuel blames the Babadook for putting the broken glass. Amelia gets mad and says that there is no such thing, while Samuel retorts that the Babadook doesn’t like it when people say he doesn’t exist. She tries different ways to destroy the book such as ripping the pages and throwing it in the trash, and burning it, but to her dismay, the book always comes back, In one of the sequences where Amelia is sleeping alongside her son, she hears the Babadook. She lifts the bed cover and sees the monster crawling above her head.
I viewed the Babadook as Amelia’s manifestation of her frustration with her son, herself, and grief towards her late husband. She withholds all her grief and stress in order to function for her son, her sister, and work, but she is at her wits’ end. It doesn’t help that her son is out of school because of his troublesome ways, and that she hasn’t accepted her husband’s death.
I relate to Amelia because I too stuff my feelings until they burst. I can only imagine how frightening my feelings would be if they manifested into a monster.
At the end, Amelia yells at the Babadook to leave her and Samuel alone. Rather than leaving, he scurries into their basement where it becomes his new living quarters. Since Amelia and Samuel are unable to completely banish the Babadook, they co-exist with him. I took this as a sign that Amelia has come to grips with her husband’s death and has to actively deal with her grief.