The following post comes courtesy of Grace Hill Media in sunny Southern California. As the genre, and responsible parenting/consumption of media are near to my heart, it was a no-brainer to feature their byline here.
Lessons For Christians From Horror Movies
The popularity of horror films continue to grow, especially among teens and young adults, who flock to movie theaters on opening weekend. This Friday, August 11, for example, the movie “Annabelle: Creation,” about a possessed doll hits theaters nationwide. It seems difficult to believe that any movie created to frighten and give us nightmares might have a meaningful spiritual lesson for Christians. And yet, anyone who has been brave enough to watch “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” written by Scott Derrickson, a Christian filmmaker, knows full well that horror movies can serve us with cautionary messages and, might just inspire the audience to head to their nearest church pew.
To be clear, not all horror films are the same. The genre has different versions.
There’s no takeaway from “slasher” or disturbing “torture” movies meant to provide nothing but shock. However, there are horror movies that depict spiritual warfare (which we know to be real) and the battle between good and evil. These supernatural films, oftentimes written and produced by Christians and based on real-life events, are filled with lessons about something we as people of faith have stopped discussing in an increasingly distracted secular world – that evil is real.
Here are a few other lessons from supernatural horror films:
1) Exorcisms are also real. Although incredibly rare, people can get possessed by evil. “The Exorcist” is based on a real-life possession of a young boy, and “Annabelle: Creation” is about a possessed girl.
2) God will always defeat evil. No matter how powerful the enemy may be, God will always come out on top. In the Bible, one of the most powerful miracles that Jesus performed was The Miracle of the Gadarene Swine in which Jesus cast unclean spirits out of a man. In real-life and in all supernatural films that have a faith message including “The Conjuring” and “The Rite,” evil will always be vanquished.
3) Ouija Boards are a big no. Perhaps one of the strongest and most valuable lessons to come from supernatural horror movies (which just as true in real life) is that those who become plagued or possessed by evil may have inadvertently invited those spirits or demon to come into their lives. This is done through certain “gateways” that many priests and Christian leaders warn us about. Christians, especially Christian parents must teach kids and teens to stay away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, or any sort divination. These are all means in which evil can take hold of our lives. In the second “Conjuring” movie the character becomes possessed after playing with a Ouija board. This was based on a true person and event.
4) Prayer is the most powerful thing in the world. Prayers protect and deliver us from evil. In horror movies, those who are plagued by evil must often turn to a person of great faith or priest to help them. That Christian leader is always portrayed as someone who believes prayer to be of utmost importance and is shown onscreen praying to God throughout the film.
5) Faith is the most important thing in the world. Believing in God and being baptized in the Christian community protects and strengthens us. It is a natural defense again evil. In times of weakness, we must lean on our faith and turn to God. The upcoming movie, “Annabelle: Creation,” is a cautionary tale that depicts what happens when one turns away from God and succumbs to temptation during a period of grief and weakness as opposed to leaning on God for grace and healing.
All movies, including horror movies tell stories. In the last century, before we had television and films, parents told stories and tales that were meant to alarm and even frighten children and youth from a certain place or course of action.
Now these stories, meant to be lessons, are brought to life onscreen, complete with sound effects and make-up. They are terrifying and they should be – evil is something to stay away from. But for Christians, there is a stronger message, one that should always comfort and strengthen us – that we have a savior and that he will always come to protect and fight for those of us in need.