The Babadook became an instant horror icon back in 2014, but how did he evolve into an unlikely gay pride icon too? The horror genre has had lots of famous monsters, from Boris Karloff's Frankenstein's Monster all the way to Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare On Elm Street. Monster movies seemed to fall out of favor with audiences for a time, however, likely due to the popularity of more supernatural themed movies like Paranormal Activity and Insidious.
It looks like the tide is turning for the horror icons of old, thanks to the success of 2017's IT, featuring Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise, and the return of Michael Myers in 2018's Halloween. Now a lot of fan-favorite properties are being resurrected, including the Child's Play remake and the upcoming Jordan Peele produced Candyman. There also talk of a Hellraiser reboot, after the franchise found itself trapped in DTV purgatory for over 20 years.
While he's not quite in the same slasher territory as Jason Voorhees or Freddy, the central monster of The Babadook made a big impression on audiences. The story finds stressed-out mother Amelia learning the monster her young son fears - dubbed Mister Babadook - may actually exist. The film is an intense, psychological horror movie in a similar vein to Hereditary. The Babadook himself appears to represent Amelia's depression and grief, with the creature being a lurking, almost unseen dark force that drives her to despair. The ending finds Amelia managing to tame the beast, though she can't totally banish him.
The Babadook is very unlikely to launch a franchise either, with director Jennifer Kent (The Nightingale) retaining the rights to the character and refusing to allow sequels. It appeared Mister Babadook's destiny was to be remembered as the star of a great horror movie, but the universe had other plans. This started in earnest in 2016, when a Tumblr screenshot showed the film listed under Netflix's LGBT section, which quickly became a meme.
Queer subtext readings of the film were initially treated as tongue-in-cheek, but there later emerged more concrete arguments, pointing to his flamboyant fashion sense and the ways he can be related to the queer experience, including feelings of oppression and isolation. Some readings also suggest the movie is about Amelia coming to terms with her son's homosexuality. The Babadook was elevated to a gay pride icon in 2017, including the arrival of the hilarious "Babashook" meme, and other fan artwork letting him display his more fabulous side.
His elevation to gay pride legend continues, with Shout! Factory releasing a special edition LGBTQ Blu-ray of The Babadook in honor of Pride Month 2019. Jennifer Kent is also intensely amused at the way the character has found a second life, and even if she didn't intend that reading, it's safe to say Mister Babadook's gay pride status has been cemented.