HitFix

William Friedkin on why he is beating the drum for ‘The Babadook’

For a first time director to attract the attention of an icon of cinema is a heady experience. So imagine the feelings of Jennifer Kent, the Australian director of the new low budget, independent horror film The Babadook, when she saw this tweet from none other than William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist himself:

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Since that first tweet, Friedkin has made beating the drums for The Babadook something of a personal cause celebre, continuing to champion it online and introducing a midnight screening last weekend at LA”s Vista Theater.

We spoke with William Friedkin by phone to find out how this little film had captured his attention.

HITFIX: How did you discover The Babadook?

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN: Well (British film critic) Mark Kermode, who is a friend of mine, wrote about it, gave it a very good review. So I tried to see it and I didn”t see that it was playing anywhere.  It turns out that it was playing only at the Cinefamily and which is a great venue but they don”t really advertise.  It”s a film society. But I also found out that it was streaming.  So I saw it on my iPad. That”s the only way I”ve seen this film on my iPad with headphones.

Were you immediately blown away by it?

Yeah. It just pulled me right in. I thought it was fantastic, a great piece of work, an emotional film that transcends genre.  And so I would see it again on the big screen and I plan to but I was so excited about it and I”m such a fan of good work wherever it comes from that I wrote about it. I don”t know Jennifer Kent. I don”t know anybody at IFC Midnight. I”m not involved in any way. I have no stake in the film.

You”ve been agitating on Twitter for them to get into more theaters.

Well, I just wrote one Tweet about that.  And I understand that there”s an ad in today”s paper where they are expanding theaters.  They”ve gotten more theatrical bookings. I don”t know why they didn”t initially. I found out from some friends in France that the film had played over there in July and created no stir. Now a lot of that is because the distributors don”t have any money to do anything.  And so they put it out on video on demand or streaming as well.  And that”s what happened here.  The only place I could see this film was on streaming, on iTunes.  I was shocked to see that.  

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You compared it to Psycho, Alien and Diabolique.

I don”t compare it.  I simply say that it”s in a class with the best horror films I”ve ever seen.

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