Jennifer Kent couldn’t get rid of The Babadook. This could be interpreted in different ways. Maybe it’s the fact that she could not shake off the idea of this monster and she felt that she needed to make a movie of it or perhaps it could mean that people cannot simply ignore their emotions until they magically go away. In the early 2000’s this Australian filmmaker was introduced to the idea of The Babadook by hearing a story about a friend. In the article “Boogeyman Nights: The Story Behind This Year’s Horror Hit The Babadook,” Sam Adams talks a little about how this movie came about.
It seems that a friend of hers had a son who thought he was being stalked by a monster. This child’s mother would play along with the story and pretend to talk to this monster. Kent couldn’t dismiss the idea. “This idea of facing darkness, facing the shadows — it just kept coming back,” Kent says. Kent was then able to bring this story to life and has created the perfect tools to promote this movie. She used three different types of marketing materials to promote the movie: the posters, short film, and trailer. These marketing materials portrayed many different aspects of the film creating an area of mystery leaving the viewers wanting more. Kent was able to use sound, font, color, and images of single motherhood to convey the theme of the movie and further enhance the viewer’s emotions.
Jennifer Kent was able to intrigue all types of people by the different perspectives displayed in the marketing materials. Rather than this solely being a horror movie it brings in a “human element” which allows it to be relatable. In the article ‘What Makes Good Advertising?’ written by Arpad Papp-Vary he expresses how empathy is essential in the role of advertising. You need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of those strangers on the other side of the screen. He then writes: “Adapt to who you are writing to and try to think with their heads and see things from their point of view” (Papp-Vary 38). This means that there are all types of different people that are going to be looking at either the poster, trailer, or short film. How will you be able to bridge the gap between all those people and bring them to watch a specific movie? Through all three marketing materials, this director was able to execute this task perfectly.
The poster in English expressed the horror aspect of the film which captured the attention of horror enthusiasts. It had this demon figure with claws and its body was shaped like a tombstone. The poster in Spanish also expressed the horror aspect of the film but in addition to that, it had an image of a mother hugging her child through the door of the house. This may have grabbed the attention of mothers or people who simply have empathy towards the expression of fear on the mother’s face as she hugs her child tightly to protect him. The short film and trailer expressed the idea of motherhood or being a single mother and all the stress that comes along with it. They also conveyed the idea that your fears will always come back to haunt you, and until you learn how to deal with them they will only grow more. These different ideas could have been perceived in different ways to the audience allowing it to attract more people.
Kent was then able to give away just a certain amount of information to be able to bring in an audience, but not too much information that they feel as though there is nothing left to know. They should be left baffled and confused impatiently awaiting the movie to come out. That is an important factor to think about while making these marketing materials. They should always leave the audience wanting more. It should leave them with an abundant amount of questions, so they must come to get the answers for themselves by watching the movie. Arpad Papp-Vary then adds: “Promise, large promise is the soul of an advertisement” (Papp-Vary 39). What the author means by “promise” is what the marketing materials guaranteed that the audience will see in the movie.
If the director left, you with a question in the trailer then the audience expects it to be answered in the movie. Kent was able to use simple materials such as sound, font, and color to play with the audience’s emotions. She was able to use one or the other in all three marketing materials. In his article, Papp-Vary tells his audience about the things that must affect our emotions besides the idea itself. “Besides the idea itself, the colors, shapes, characters, the music, and wording must also affect our emotions” (Papp Vary 40).
In both posters, he was able to use colors (black, grey, and red) to express grief, darkness, and danger. The poster in English had a demon shaped like a tombstone which symbolized death. In the poster in Spanish, it had a mother hugging her child with fear written all over her face. It made individuals think about what she was so scared of. In both posters, the font and wording created a mysterious and scary effect by mixing up the sizing of the letters and how big a word should be. The short film and trailer both used very dark colors to emphasize how dreary it is.
The characters that played as the mother in both materials seemed worn-out, stressed, and elsewhere. The child in each material was loud, crazy, and annoying. In the trailer, there was a creepy voice of The Babadook chanting a phrase over-and-over which evoked fear in the audience. There was also a weird sort of knocking on the door that seemed to be done by the Babadook which was just terrifying. All these examples are basic things used in most materials but have a great effect on the audience’s emotions.
To add to this, the absence of the father in all three marketing materials made it relatable for certain types of viewers and was able to easily manipulate all those empathetic viewers. Whenever there is only one parent in a movie it always seems to draw in more viewers. The poster in Spanish and the short film did not elaborate on why the father was not present. It was not made clear if he had passed away or is just not in the mother and child’s life. It only portrayed a mother hugging her child. In the short film, we were introduced to a single mother taking care of her child with no sign of the father. In the movie trailer, the audience was told that the father had passed away.
All these reasons convey grief and use pathos to bring in a larger audience. Any human being fears the loss or absence of a parent. The director was able to use this idea to touch all types of people. Papp-Vary explains the ways for a marketing material to be successful. He writes “In order to make a product successful, you need two things: it must function correctly, and affect emotions in the depths of the human soul” (Papp Vary 40). This means that it has to be able to work properly and allow people to empathize greatly with what is being portrayed. Using the absence of the father allows all those who can somewhat relate be reminded of their own experience and tend to like the movie more. This allowed the director to work with these individual’s emotions to bring in a larger audience.
Overall, the combination of all three marketing materials was very well put together. Kent was able to persuade her audience using easy elements such as sound and color. Through her different ideas, she was able to steer in more people to watch the movie. Slowly, through each material, the audience was given more information about what this movie is really going to be about. Is it going to be about the mother’s grief after her husband passes? Or will it be about the everyday struggles of motherhood? There is no telling how the movie will play out, so to find out, you must come and seek answers on your own.