The uncontainable power of children’s culture has become a reoccurring preoccupation of recent supernatural horror films. Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2 (James Wan, 2012, 2013), Sinister (Scott Derrickson, 2012), Mama (Andrés Muschietti, 2013), and The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014) function like contemporary fairy tales that threaten to destabilise the accepted balance of power and knowledge between children and adults. In these films, the child character’s imaginative fixation with a monstrous bogeyman/woman comes to expose the child’s intimate connection with the supernatural, a realm which extends its tendrils beyond the child’s imagination and into the adult characters’ reality – and in some cases threatens to erupt into the viewer’s reality as well. This talk will discuss the eerie ways these films re-position the child’s bogeyman as a threat to adult characters and viewers, while exploring the anxieties about childhood and children’s tales that they express.
Jessica Balanzategui is in the final stages of her PhD at The University of Melbourne, where she also teaches film and cultural studies. Her research examines uncanny child characters in recent horror films from America, Spain and Japan. Jessica has published work about the horror film in journals such as Etropic and Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media, as well as The Age and Issimo Magazine. She recently co-edited a special issue of Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media titled “Transmedia Horror”.