It's October, and that means horror. Which means slasher flicks; vampires; satanic cults; zombies; giant worms; cabins in the woods; stupid, frisky teenagers; lots of screaming; and an unrealistic amount of blood that no human body could actually contain.
Growing up, October was that month where my family and I would be watching TV and some trailer for some horror flick would come on and we'd all frown and collectively shake our heads with a designated "ew" of judgment, mute the screen, and wait for it to go away. In addition, I had nightmares at the drop of a hat, so these weren't particularly edifying or beneficial for me. (Seriously. I watched half a trailer for Shutter Island and had a nightmare.)
But to the people who have only gotten to know me in the last year or two, this might sound weird.
Because now, I like horror. I've watched the first two seasons of The Walking Dead; I have Cabin in the Woods in my personal collection; my Stephen King library isn't vast, but isn't insignificant; and I am slowly poking away at Amnesia: The Dark Descent, just to name a small fraction of where I've dabbled. Oh yes, and I continue to be slightly addicted to the Monster Hunter International series by Larry Correia.
When I say, "Yeah, I like horror," some people don't see it as a big deal. But then there are others who give minorly shell-shocked stares as they seem to wonder just when I possibly went off the deep end and started to watch/read/play that.
Which, I totally get. For years, I veered away from horror not so much because of a personal conviction or even because of Philippians 4:8, which says, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." I veered away because everywhere I went, I could feel the socially unacceptableness of touching that genre oozing out of the people watching me.
Despite having been interested in darker, creepier, more, er, "drippy" atmospheres for as long as I can remember, I was scared to look at something that everyone said was bad. Horror = Evil = Bad. And then, of course, there was the whole nightmare thing.
Which, while I believe that fear was a good thing when I was younger, in the last year, I've come to the conclusion that this blanket judgment about the horror genre is not exclusively true.
This isn't solely because I've come to accept the fact that "I like gross stuff" and that I am attracted to bleak horribleness (despite being a Christian). These are things that I fully acknowledge, and I truly mean it from my heart when I say this:
"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." —1 Corinthians 10:23
I never, ever want to encourage anyone to go against their convictions.
Okay. That said, I do believe Philippians 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 10:23 are abused in a bit of a one-sided manner on the topic of horror. We'll get into that in a later post. We'll also clarify just what "horror" can mean; it's a much looser term than you might be thinking. I'll showcase some examples of "horror" movies from across different sub-genres that have some fantastic themes that may stretch your thinking or even touch your heart.
The point of fiction should be to challenge your mind to come up with more questions that require biblical answers and to strengthen your faith as you consider the answers. Each time you read a story, you are reading someone's worldview from their heart. This applies to horror movies and books as well.
"Horror" has gotten a bad rap, and from what I've gleaned, probably 90% of it is whole-heartedly deserved. There are horror movies focused on demonic possession, satanic cults, witchcraft, "torture porn," gore, sadism, sex—everything. But these types of movies are not exclusively what the parent genre has to offer.
I'd love to discuss this with people. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). This might seem such a silly little thing, but I do think it's definitely something worth exploring because the horror genre is a reality. I'm not asking anyone to agree, merely to think outside of a pre-established box of prejudice.
September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.