Though the “in” thing right now is to hate The Babadook for its popularity, I am going to stand by the fact that it is, well, a good movie. The Babadook has done something that doesn’t happen all that often and therefore should be praised by the horror fan community: it received critic recognition. The Babadook is not the first horror film with substance and it won’t be the last, but it is always a welcomed sight when a horror film receives credit where it usually receives condemnation.
And along with that fact, the film deserved its critical praise. It did something that is historically difficult to do in the horror genre. It was a legitimately scary movie with a legitimately great premise. Director Jennifer Kent used horror to convey a human condition, and it worked not only flawlessly, but perhaps better than any other genre could have done.
The metaphorical monster of the Babadook embodies grief, and the tackling of this manifested psychological analogy is the driving force of the film. The obstacle of the tantrum-throwing child is one that must be hurdled in order to earn the introspection-inducing conclusion. Yes, the child has his moments that make you wish you could phase through the screen and strangle him yourself, but he is also a key component to the process. It’s a process, using the horror vehicle, that leads to a much more impactful moral delivery.
The Babadook has its flaws. The pacing has moments of lag, the child’s age shows in his acting at times, and the monster’s screen time is limited, but the film as a whole is a stair step on the staircase of the horror genre. It told the movie critic community that horror should not be merely dismissed at every turn, that it can have substance, that it can have quality direction and development, and it can move people in a way not defined as “squirming”.