“The Babadook” Discussion Questions

Write a paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts:

Just like I do with every film, I’m going to start by asking you to examine the title in some detail. What is the significance of “The Babadook”? What is a babadook and where does it come from? I encourage you to push yourself to think about more than just the name of the literal monster or that the word comes from the title of that mysterious children’s pop-up book called “Mister Babadook.”

Like a lot of horror films, “The Babadook” derives some of its deepest fears from children’s stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes. Director Jennifer Kent worked extensively with artist Alexander Juhasz to develop and build the beautiful art book at the heart of this film. Certainly, horror is not a genre meant for children to watch, so why do you think children, their stories, and their toys are such rich material for horror?

Much like many of the other horror films we’ve watched together so far in this film studies series (“A Quiet Place,” “Us,” etc.), a deep exploration of “family” and family dynamics emerges as one central concern of “The Babadook.” How does this film understand and portray family relationships, especially the relationship between parent and child? Feel free to compare this film’s portrayal of family to other films.

Finally, beyond its main plot and the actions that take place, what do you think “The Babadook” is really about? What is the movie actually saying? What does it all mean?

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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