It’s October, the peculiar time of year in which people (particularly Americans) demonstrate an extra fascination with the terrifying, macabre, and all-around creepy. As such, I wish to discuss the potential usefulness of the horror genre from a Christian perspective.
I don’t want to confuse you by suggesting that I condone or defend media that simply wishes to entertain man’s baser desires through gore or ghastly grotesqueness. By “horror”, I simply mean the genre in a general sense.
Let’s first consider the Christian doctrine of objective evil. This is quite at odds with the modern world, but the horror genre needs an evil of some sort to work. It may be a killer, a monster, or a host of other things, but some evil being or force must be present. Christians can find a good bit of humor in the irony of this situation, especially considering the genre’s popularity. In a similar way, if a human is the antagonist of a horror book or film, we can point out how this demonstrates another greatly unpopular doctrine: the depravity of man. This is especially true if the work in question effectively has the moral, “the real monster is man.” These features of horror also help Christians remember that there is such a thing as evil, and that it must be taken seriously.
Another element to consider is the frequent use of the supernatural in horror. This can be potentially useful, considering how many modern men outright deny the presence of the supernatural. Even popular media bears witness to our knowledge of the existence of things that can’t be seen by human eyes! Of course, caution must be taken here. Simply belief in the supernatural does nothing—and, if it’s coupled with unhealthy inclinations, it could lead to interest in the occult. Wisdom and discernment are always necessary.
Ultimately, horror forcefully reminds its consumer that all is not right in the world. Modern men supposedly reject the idea that they live in a fallen world, and that death is evil–yet their tastes in fiction indicate otherwise. The specter of death is always present in horror, portrayed as an evil which we want to flee from, contrary to the modern world’s nonsensical platitudes about it being “part of life”. If we partake in the horror genre, let us use it to remind both ourselves and modern men of the realities of evil, our mortality, and how we combat such things with the gospel of the resurrected Savior.