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Podcast Episode 39: Psychoanalyzing ‘The Babadook’

This boogeyman horror film is really about motherhood, grief, and loss

A terrifying page from the book that a mother reads to her son in

Credit: IFC

Above: A terrifying page from the book that a mother reads to her son in "The Babadook."

Episode 39: Psychoanalyzing 'The Babadook'

Psychoanalyst Cris Powell has worked with abused and traumatized children. She turns a professional eye on 'The Babadook' as a study of grief and loss.

Subscribe to the Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.


This week's horror-themed edition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast looks at "The Babadook" through the eyes of a psychoanalyst.

Cris Powell writes under the pen name of Cate Shepherd and will soon have a new young adult book out called "Dragon Camp" that teaches many of the same concepts that were woven into her earlier book "Emotional Orphans." Dragon Camp is a place where highly sensitive, high intensity and misunderstood young dragons go to get support, learn how to manage their fire breathing tendencies, and actualize their awesome dragon potential.

All this made Powell seem like the perfect person to discuss the 2014 horror film "The Babadook," which is about a young boy coping with the emotional trauma of having lost his father in a car accident.

SPOILER ALERT: We are going to discuss the film in detail (including the ending) so we can see how this boogeyman tale is actually a cleverly crafted exploration of grief and loss as well as a look at a dysfunctional mother-child relationship. "The Babadook" creature is the MacGuffin of the story, it’s what the film seems to be about but isn’t. Powell serves up some psychological insights into Jennifer Kent’s brilliant horror film in this week's horror-themed podcast.

If you have not seen "The Babadook," you can watch it online on Netflix, Amazon, or Google Play.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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