VOX POP: The Babadook

Production still from The Babadook (Source: Icon)

It may be a dying art these days, but anyone of a certain age will likely remember those advertorials where punters were asked what they thought of a film as they left a screening. Well, our semi-regular Vox Pop column is updating that notion for the 21st century by attempting to gauge the mood of the Twitterverse about Australian films in the UK, putting it somewhere between criticism by consensus and an opinionated free-for-all.

Jennifer Kent’s pop-up book scarefest The Babadook landed in British and Irish cinemas on Friday (in what constituted the widest release of an Australian film here for some time). The critics may have lauded it with four and five star reviews, and early indications suggest that it has had a strong opening weekend, but lets see what the punters thought.

Generally speaking, most seemed pretty happy that the film delivered on its promise of thrills and chills, whilst also being more than a little creepy:

Although some left the cinema weirded out, confused, or both:

And I think it’s safe to say that some were unable to sleep and/or slightly freaked out by strange nocturnal visions:

Nevertheless, at least one person saw the real monster of the film for who (or what) it is:

Now, as a genre, horror has many variations, so it’s hardly surprising that whilst some felt The Babadook was breathing new life into horror’s stale corpse…

…others felt that the ‘horror’ tag was entirely misplaced (no doubt tainting their impressions):

The ending was also a matter of some contention:

Although that ambivalence marked the whole film for some:

A number of people also felt that it failed to live up to the hype:

That said, the criticism wasn’t always that ‘constructive’:

Criticisms aside, plenty of people were willing to rank The Babadook amongst the best horror films of recent years:

And some detected influences that stretched back through the history of cinema (and beyond):

More gratifying for Jennifer Kent and co (I suspect), will be the many people who saw beyond the thrills, picking up on (and praising) the psychological aspects of the film and its treatment of motherhood, trauma and mental illness:

It also propelled some people towards self-betterment:

A wide release is obviously about drawing in a broader audience. An unfortunate side effect is that you do occasionally get fellow cinema-goers who aren’t quite as dedicated to the code of conduct as one might hope:

Overall, the British Twitterverse seems generally very receptive to The Babadook, with the positive comments far outnumbering the negative ones. And yet it seems prudent, given the current hand-wringing about the state of Australian cinema at home, that we leave the last word to Mr Babadook himself:

Oh, and he already has plans for a sequel:

The Babadook is currently in cinemas across the UK/Eire. Find a screening near you on Icon’s Powio page.

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