The early Christians opposed gladiator combat in the arena because it cheapened human life, and God had revealed that every life is precious. Sure there were justification that people used to support the grisly sport, the foundational principle remained: life is precious to God. I remember watching Jurassic Park and in the scene where the T-Rex ate the annoying little lawyer a cheer went up from the audience. Why? They had been manipulated by the director to believe the lawyer did not deserve to live. I felt sick about that moment, because I knew God said differently. I have never liked Jurassic Park for that very reason.
In this article the author tries to convince us that there is some redeeming quality to the horror genre, and I would say that there is none. You don't need to watch a movie to have a spiritual conversation or to be reminded the evil exists or that each of us is capable of evil. There are examples of those realities all around us. Why do we need to justify our continued participation in this world rather than to look for way to live differently while living in it?
Facing our fears can be terrifying. Life beckons us to engage our deepest anxieties and offers a number of scenarios to do so, and yet every time, facing our fears can leave us feeling inadequate and out of control. Enter the horror genre. Strip away its guts, glory and intense sequel making abilities, and this genre is about fear. Namely, our fears. Culture’s fears. Fear of death. Fear of the dark. Fear of terrorism. Fear of war. Fear of being alone in a house with a serrated kitchen knife and a guy stumbling up the stairs behind you.
This genre has fascinated me ever since I can remember, yet my interest was always combined with hesitation. Why? Evangelical conviction? Post-modern skepticism? The fear of being sucked into the TV like the little girl from Poltergeist? No. I’ve always been fascinated and entertained by the excitement of horror genre, yet I've been reminded on more than one occasion that "good Christians don’t watch horror movies.” Mainstream Christianity has embraced a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality in regards to genres or works of art that are unfamiliar or elusive. We're too quick to attach the demise of our culture on the back of such a genre instead of viewing it as a lost society's desperate attempt to search for the spiritual. So I decided to find out for myself what, if any, redeeming qualities lie in what many consider the most controversial and frustratingly dismissed genre in the world of entertainment. Is there anything good in a genre that emphasizes the bad? Can the genre be redeemed?
I have no doubt that part of what drives the horror genre is society's attempt to understand the spiritual, but that doesn't mean it has value for a follower of Christ. I am not worried that the demise of our culture lay at the feet of horror movies, because there are many other reasons why that is happening. What does concern me is the way Christians justify their participation in culture rather than rising above it. This strikes me as another attempt to justify being relevant to culture, rather than seeking to redeem culture as whole. Isn't that what we have been called to do?