I’m a Christian who loves horror movies.
And not just the classy or smart horror movies, like the Universal monsters or Rosemary’s Baby. I mean all horror movies: smart stuff like The Exorcist and The Witch, popular stuff like Dawn of the Dead or The Sixth Sense, and trashy stuff like Friday the 13th and Frankenhooker.
That statement has earned me more than a few raised eyebrows, even in the past few years, when people have rushed home from church to catch The Walking Dead. Why in the world would someone who knows that perfect love drives out fear spend time making himself afraid?
There are lots of reasons, more than I’ll cover right now. But one of the best reasons is to see what scares people. You see, the things that scare us in movies almost always stem from real-world problems and concerns.
The most famous example of this is Toho Company’s Godzilla. The filmmakers set out to make a movie that would scare Japanese filmgoers. And what would really scare them? How about atomic energy destroying Japanese cities?
When it came time to scare Americans in the 1980s, the period of renewed Eisenhower-era values and the suburban boom, we started making movies like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, movies where suburban houses and summer camps were death traps to teenagers.
So when we watch a horror movie, we can ask ourselves, “Why is this scaring us? What’s behind this monster?”
And when a Christian watches a horror movie, we can respond with an answer. We can tell one another what to do with that fear.
That’s what I was going for with this piece I wrote for Think Christian, about the excellent recent film It Comes at Night.
Take a look, and I’d love to hear what you think.