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What Was “The Babadook?” Was it Real?

From a cinematic standpoint, the power of The Babadook‘s (2014) creature was exhibited in the tension brought by the actors. The Babadook appears to be an imaginary monster, despite occasional “manifestations” of the creature in seemingly physical form. The child’s obsession with monsters introduces the film as a common “monster under the bed” story, but we soon see it diverge into the psychological.

The Babadook was never physically in the house. It didn’t stalk Amelia (Essie Davis) when she was out in the world and didn’t hide in the darkness of her home. It did, however, haunt her inside her head. The Babadook represents the deterioration of Amelia’s own mental state. It manifested from the destructive combination of her depression, anger and resentment towards her life and family. It was, to Amelia (and to the cinematic audience), an extremely real and terrifying monster, but it was a monster that existed in the mind. One could essentially say that Amelia herself was The Babadook.