When The Babadook came to theaters back in 2014, it was fairly well-received as a Grade-A horror movie, but it wasn’t until years later, in 2017, that it was hilariously decided the character was a “queer icon.”
And now the writer and director of The Babadook, Jennifer Kent, has officially spoken up about her own thoughts on the character — a monster with creepy, long fingers, a huge mouth and a top hat — and its queer icon status.
This status was bestowed upon the Babdook purely as a joke and due to an oversight by Netflix. It seems the streaming platform, when putting together its subgenre of “LGBT movies,” inadvertently included The Babadook among other queer films like G.B.F. and Other People.
The idea of The Babadook being an “LGBT film” — and the monster himself being some sort of queer allegory — stuck. Many memes were made, we were treated to a Babadook makeup tutorial and a drag queen music video inspired by the monster, even rumors that the Babadook was dating Pennywise, the killer clown from the 2017 reboot It.
Seriously, the internet lost its damn mind.
In response to the memes and general outpouring of queer support for the Babadook, Tim Purcell — the actor who portrayed the monster in the film — said, “I didn’t feel like a gay icon at the time, I can tell you that much,” referring to the hours and hours of makeup and costume creation he had to undergo to embody the character.
But the horror film’s director Jennifer Kent had always stayed silent about her character reaching queer icon status — that is, until horror blog Bloody Disgusting interviewed her at Sundance and asked about the outpouring of queer love.
Kent says she was pleasantly surprised that her film took on such high regard in the LGBTQ community, finding a new sort of relevance years after its initial release. “Of course, I love that story,” she says.
“I think it’s crazy and just kept him alive,” she says, referring to the memes created years after the film’s release. “I thought, ah, you bastard. He doesn’t want to die so he’s finding ways to become relevant.”