The season to be spooked is upon us. Halloween and scary movies are seemingly inseparable. You either thrive on the adrenaline that accompanies fear or you don’t. The genre of horror movies has long caused vocal debates amongst Christians. Is it wrong for believers to watch these horror films? Do they have any value at all?
Is it wrong for Christians to watch horror movies?
Shontonel Dillon, a freshman in the Intercultural Studies program, feels that horror films “are wrong to an extent.” This belief is based mostly on movies that feature paranormal activity or perversions of religious faith.
She qualifies her statement by saying, “If [horror movies] are natural, rather than supernatural, [they’re] okay.”
Logan Miller, a junior in the Early Education program, believes the decision is best left up to the individual.
“I do not believe that it is wrong for Christians to watch horror films,” he said, “but they should be mindful of what they let into their minds.” He cited Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” as the reason we must use judgement when selecting what to watch and what to avoid.
Professor Cialini, adjunct English professor at LBC, believes that while there is nothing inherently wrong with the genre of horror, “there is material out there that we should avoid. What that is may vary … but I do not believe we should wholesale avoid complicated material or unsavory material.”
According to Cialini, “No art form is evil or negative in and of itself. Whether or not we should partake of a mode or genre is wholly related to the way the mode is used.”
Can value be found in horror movies?
Miller says yes.
“I believe that there is value in horror films,” he said. “For me, the main purpose of these films is entertainment- to escape mundane life and travel to a world of twists, turns, and terror.”
His sentiment is echoed by Dillon. She said, “Horror movies have entertainment value only.”
While Dillon would not consider herself a fan of scary movies, she concedes that their ability to captivate and enthrall audiences can be considered valuable.
Cialini feels strongly that the genre of horror has had value since its origination.
“In Gothic Literature and the like, the idea of horror is often connected to spirituality and the fear of the awe of beings unknown and more powerful than ourselves,” he said. “It also seeks to instill in readers a sense of wonder and the beautiful in the sublime. It begs readers to believe in something even if they cannot see or understand it, which is a significantly important lesson to Christians.”
Are some horror movies more acceptable than others?
Like Dillon, Miller personally steers clear of horror films centered around the supernatural.
He says, “ I have always strayed away from movies that involve possession and demons because this is too realistic for me. Because I have a biblical worldview, I know that possession and demons come directly from hell. For this reason, I personally do not have a desire to view movies involving possession of any kind.”
Cialini specifically cites the Saw franchise when discussing the varying acceptability of horror movies.
“I don’t think it’s about types of horror, necessarily, it’s about the use of the mode,” he said. “One exemplary case might be the “Saw” movie franchise. Inherently, those movies are about exposing our sinful nature and forcing people to change their ways, to make people better. However, the niceties end there.”
He continues, “the franchise quickly became a display of torture-worship. That is something that no one should abide. To reiterate, I tend to believe that intent and execution (pardon the dark pun) of a mode of art comprise a large portion of what makes something ‘acceptable’ or otherwise.”
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