20 Socially Conscious Horror Movies

6 of 21

The Babadook (2014)

The Issue: Mental health

The Movie:

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a window and mother of a troubled six-year-old, Sam. Sam doesn’t sleep and is obsessed with an imaginary monster and carrying weapons to fight it, which gets him in trouble at school. One night he asks Amelia to read him a pop-up book called Mr. Babadook, and neither Amelia nor Sam know where it came from. They book described a monster who torments people and Sam becomes terrified, insisting that The Babadook was real.

Strange things start happening in their home, like inexplicable sounds and doors opening and closing. Amelia destroys the book, and Sam has visions of the Babadook and has a seizure. The book reappears on their front door step with new messages for Amelia, saying the Babadook is growing stronger and she can’t stop it. The pop-ups now depict Amelia killing their dog, Sam and herself. Amelia tries to contact the police but has no evidence of any wrong-doing.

Amelia’s behavior becomes stranger yet. She’s impatient, yells at Sam constantly and can’t sleep because of visions of the Babadook. She then sees visions of her late husband who asks her to kill Sam. The Babadook then possesses Amelia and kills the dog, and attempts to kill Sam. Sam traps her in the basement and she throws up a strange substance, seemingly the spirit that had possessed her. Sam and Amelia are able to trap the Babadook in their basement and keep it there while they live their lives.

What It’s Saying:

The Babadook is a metaphor for Amelia’s depression, grief and resentment towards her son. It starts off as something terrible that tries to consume Amelia, but eventually she overcomes and learns to manage it. Showing that Amelia and Sam learn to manage and live with her depression instead of magically being ‘cured’ from it shows a much more healthy and realistic portrayal of mental illness than you usually get in films.