Jen­nifer Kent

Direc­tor of The Babadook

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Are you a fan of hor­ror?

I am. I cer­tainly don’t look down on it. A lot of amaz­ing di­rec­tors cut their teeth on hor­ror, es­pe­cially if you look to the early hor­rors – back to the ’ 20s with Carl Dreyer. A lot of those films are re­ally artis­tic and beau­ti­ful, and that’s what I saw as the po­ten­tial for The Babadook. And I love the Polan­ski do­mes­tic hor­rors. Repul­sion and The Ten­ant are great. How did you ap­proach work­ing with a six- year- old?

We took three weeks be­fore­hand to prep him to know what act­ing was, but also what the Babadook was. He was drawing pic­tures of him and the Babadook and his mum and dad. He felt a re­ally im­por­tant part of the team. And I tried to shoot in se­quence as much as pos­si­ble, so he knew what was go­ing on. Some­times di­rec­tors like to try and trick kids or keep them in the dark. For me, that doesn’t make sense be­cause chil­dren are re­ally bright. Give them credit and they can do amaz­ing things. Noah has an amaz­ing re­silience. I saw lit­tle boys in the short­list that could have been good as well, but I just felt they didn’t have the ro­bust emo­tional qual­ity that Noah had. Is there a fe­male au­di­ence for hor­ror that isn’t be­ing well served?

I was talk­ing to a pro­ducer and he said, “Women over 30 start drop­ping off and stop watch­ing it.” And I don’t think that’s be­cause they’re un­in­ter­ested. I think that’s be­cause hor­ror is not as in­tel­li­gent as it could be. But when it is, peo­ple re­spond to it. Hor­ror doesn’t have to just be about re­lease. I think there’s great po­ten­tial. Rosie Fletcher

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