Should Christians Watch Horror Movies?
Even if you don’t notice the jack-o-lantern decorations starting to adorn houses outside, or the various costumes lining the walls of every retail store—even if you haven’t left your home in weeks—you can tell Halloween is approaching because of one thing: horror movies.
They consume just about every channel on television and plague our Netflix and Hulu feeds. Even our kids, when watching a children’s show, will encounter a Halloween special that has scarier elements than the normal programming.
Can Christians Watch Horror Movies?
This article will dive into some aspects of the 'yes, we should avoid them' argument and the 'some horror movies can be watchable' argument, and weigh, on each side, what Scripture has to say.
Argument 1: Christians Should Avoid Horror Movies
Most on this side of the argument will point to Scriptures such as Ephesians 4:27, which tells Christians not to let the devil get a foothold.
By watching content about demonic powers and supernatural powers, we allow those powers potential foothold.
Furthermore, one can argue that these films often will show supernatural evil as the winner or portray evil in a more positive light. They can often glorify the occult, magic, and gore, all elements we should flee from. If we are to keep a pure mind and a clean heart, we shouldn’t risk tainting either of those by plaguing our mind and hearts with images of pure evil (Psalm 51:10).
These movies can also present a numbing effect that sears our consciences. When presented with so many images that glorify the triumph of evil, or portray excess violence and gore, our brains can normalize such images. We can grow emotionless to the shocking effects they ought to produce.
Will we be caught cheering when evil triumphs on the screen? Or calloused when yet another victim in the movie dies a horrifying death?
If we are to be thinking about whatever is excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), does watching a movie which promotes the opposite prevent us from doing this?
Argument 2: Some Horror Movies are Watchable
Of course, we do have to keep in mind that some movie makers who produce horror, are, in fact, Christian.
In fact, one of horror’s most influential filmmakers follows Christ. Scott Derickson has worked on films such as Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Hellraiser: Inferno, and Deliver Us From Evil.
Derickson, like Frank Peretti in This Present Darkness, likes to tackle themes of supernatural powers head-on, from a Christian perspective. In an interview with Relevant, Derickson nods to how C.S. Lewis tackles similar themes in Screwtape Letters, and used C.S. Lewis as an influence on the plot of one of his flicks.
If we are to avoid horror films, we have to evaluate the other media we consume (such as Christian books that may tackle horrific themes). In addition to Christian media, we have to evaluate all other forms of media that we consume. Will we avoid movies with swear words because they do not cause us to think of purified things or movies that glorify acts of sex or violence?
Choose to Live Consistently
Whatever we choose, we have to live consistently.
One can also point to the fact that horror films can alert us to the fact that evil is real and present in our world.
This article from GodTube highlights five films with Christian themes. Even horror movies, according to this, can help us reflect on truths of Scripture.
We also have to keep in mind, Scripture isn’t exactly horror-free. We have jarring events such as gang rape (Judges 19), infanticide (Exodus 1:16, Matthew 2:16), among other elements that shock the reader and alert them to the horrors that pervade our world today.
4 Possible Solutions to Discern for Yourself
Horror is a tricky genre, fraught with glorifications of evil. I have provided a few possible solutions below, but keep in mind not all of these criteria will work for every Christian. If a Christian feels a certain conviction (toward whether they should or should not watch a horror movie) they should follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Solution One: Peruse Christian movie review websites prior to watching a certain horror flick. PluggedIn is a known resource of Christian movie reviews, including movies of the horror genre.
Solution Two: Analyze a plot summary or ask a friend who has seen the movie. How does the movie portray evil? Does it glorify it? Is the violence used in the flick senseless, or does it try to shed light on a certain issue? Read up on the directors’ backgrounds and why he or she decided to create this film. Are they anti-Christian in purpose, or do they, like Derickson, want to bring even Christianity to a very dark genre?
Solution Three: Pray about it. Ask if God wants you to see this particular film or to sit out the genre for a while. For some of us, we may not want to expose our minds to the genre in general, but for others, we could be enlightened to spiritual truths or think about the problem of evil in a new light.
Solution Four: If you find yourself desensitized to the gore or jarring elements portrayed in the movie, consider sitting out the genre for a while. As Christians, we do not want to lose our compassion and empathy.
Overall, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The problem of evil isn’t something we should take lightly, but we can see even Christ in the darkest of places. Yes, possibly even in a horror movie.
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