The Babadook (2014) Ending Explained: Jennifer Kent’s 2014 feature debut, “The Babadook,” is widely lauded among cinephiles. And for good reasons. The psychological horror film satiates pure horror fans with its signature monster design and tense moments filled with great horror tropes. However, it also has a deeper meaning for those with keen eyes. If you haven’t already guessed, “The Babadook” isn’t just another movie monster. The supernatural icon is the manifestation of a much more natural horror: grief and an all-encompassing depression.
The Babadook (2014) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis
Amelia (Essie Davis) is a single mother struggling to keep things afloat with her troubled young son, Sam (Noah Wiseman). Sam’s father, Oskar, died on the day of Sam’s birth due to an accident. Sam’s birth literally was a source of tremendous trauma to Amelia. This scarring moment, obviously, has a profound effect on Amelia and her relationship with Sam. In turn, Sam also does not go through a healthy childhood. The six-year-old has episodes of erratic and dangerous behaviors.
One day, Sam finds a storybook titled “Mister Babadook.” The story tells of a suited and hatted human-like character that torments its victims if they become aware of it. Sam starts to claim to see the scary embodiment of darkness. The already troubled mother-son duo becomes more troubled. Amelia’s attempt to get rid of the Babadook book fails. When the book returns to her front porch after she has torn it, she starts to see the supernatural side of it.
Then, eventually, Amelia also starts to see “The Babadook.” The monster creeps up to the ceiling of Amelia’s room and attacks her. From that moment onwards, Amelia changes. She starts to show less compassion towards Sam. Amelia even starts to show signs of paranoia and violence. She disconnects the telephone line with a knife. Furthermore, she unwittingly threatens Sam’s life with the same knife. She starts to hallucinate about more violence, including killing Sam and their dog, Bugsy.
When Babadook reappears with a vision of Amelia’s late husband, it finally possesses her fully. The possessed Amelia goes on a rampage. She kills the dog. She then tries to kill Sam. Sam, however, manages to knock her out in the basement. It momentarily stops Amelia. However, it still does not deter her. When she wakes up, she tries to strangulate Sam. However, Sam caresses her face lovingly, and that stops her on her track. She violently vomits and throws up a black substance. This indicates Babadook leaving her body.
Sam tells her that one cannot get rid of the Babadook. And she understands. She fights with the monster till her last breath and manages to shut the Babadook in the basement. In the end, Amelia and Sam are shown to have made peace with the existence of Babadook in their lives. As Amelia readies herself to prepare for Sam’s birthday, we see her feed the locked-in monster in the basement. The Babadook tries to attack her, but Amelia manages to tame it with a bowl of earthworms.
The Babadook (2014) Movie Ending Explained
How Is the Monster the Embodiment of Grief?
Director Jennifer Kent has expressed that she was adamant not to have the Babadook defeated, as it’s the tradition in most horror films. She has fought against any such interference. This is quite suggestive in deciphering the true nature of Babadook. It is noted among the fans of the film that the pitch-black cloak of Babadook is an allegory of the solid dark mass that gobbles you when you are in depression.
The Five Stages of Amelia’s Grief
The terrifying monster in “The Babadook” is untreated trauma of Amelia. Amelia never got the chance or time to process the loss of her beloved. When her husband died, she immediately had to jump into motherhood. A job that her mental health was unsurprisingly not ready for. Thus begins the first stage of grief. Denial. Amelia’s initial attitude towards Babadook was representative of the same.
The next stage is Anger. Amelia has always expressed frustration at Sam, but the repressed anger rears its head during the first attack of Babadook. When Amelia threatens Sam, when she brandishes the knife, she loses herself to her inner anger.
The Bargaining stage is when the Babadook-generated vision of Amelia’s husband, Oskar, shows up. That version of Oskar asks Amelia to kill Sam, and then he would come back. Babadook sheds light on Amelia’s innermost thoughts, where she could sacrifice her child if that meant getting her husband back. Subsequently, she feels guilty about it. Amelia’s reaction to the monster is a testament to that.
The Depression stage comes when Babadook enters Amelia’s body. Its dark aura fills the entire room, as is the case with depression’s engulfing nature. It is mental chaos. In this stage, Amelia becomes unhinged and gets out of control. It is only when the next stage appears that she can recover.
Acceptance comes when Sam caresses Alicia, which makes her regurgitate the monster inside her. Sam’s words say that you cannot get rid of the Babadook. This is when you realize and accept the reality. Amelia realizes from her son that she has to accept the reality.
In the story of “Mister Babadook,” it is noted that if the person tries to deny the existence of Babadook, the monster returns with much more vigor. This is how the story starts for Amelia. She continues to ignore the signs and never even acknowledges the massive tragedy that has started her motherhood life. Her entire relationship with her young son is jeopardized as a result.
The entire film is a journey of Amelia’s mental health and how she tries to cope. In the end, when she ‘tames’ Babadook, it means she has learned to accept the fact that her husband is not going to be present ever again. Just like the Babadook, this fact is immutable. This loss can never be changed, and neither can this feeling of being defeated. One can understand now why director Jennifer Kent vehemently wanted the Babadook to be not defeated.
Because you cannot change the source of grief in your lives, you cannot change those triggers. You do the best you can do to tame this beast.