Jonah Hofmeyer — Staff Writer
If you had asked me three years ago what my least favorite genre of movie was, I would have told you horror without hesitation. If you ask me today, I think horror has the best potential to reach the widest audience. Horror movies are a genre Christians shy away from, and for good reason. Horror is the most corrupt and abused genre. For this reason, I think Christians need to be making more horror films.
I wrote my first horror film in high school. It was called “The Red Balloon” and the short film was a parody of the movie “It.” At that time, I hated horror, and I wrote it with a group for a school project. Yet, our final product was voted the top film in the class. That experience got me thinking maybe I had the horror genre all wrong.
Each genre of film allows the audience to critically think about the world around them. Dramas help an audience think about difficult situations and how to approach them. Sci-fi opens the audience’s mind to think about the future and what it may hold. Romance movies challenge the audience to think about love and marriage. Horror movies force the audience to think more about difficult topics like death, sin, and evil.
The goal of a movie should never be to manipulate its audience to think a certain way. While a movie should make the audience think, it should not manipulate the audience to hold onto beliefs out of fear. This is where horror movies can be taken too far, from a Christian perspective.
There are five main elements needed for a film to be considered horror, according to masterclass.com. These elements include more action than dialogue, mounting suspense, jump-scares, gore, and a villain/monster. There is a standout to me on this list: gore. Gore is the one obstacle Christians will find when it comes to horror movies. Lots of horror movies today have gore just for the sake of gore. Movies like this love to play off the shock factor, but the shock has no point.
Christians can make horror movies with gore. Let me give you a concrete example. The movie “The Passion of the Christ” is considered a drama, but it also has the horror tag when you search it on Google. “The Passion of the Christ” is not a PG movie by any means, and one of the main reasons for this is gore. Without the gore, this movie wouldn’t have the same impact. The gore added to the experience of the movie; it got the audience to realize what a painful death Jesus went through.
Gore needs to be justified within a horror story. But can gore be justified even when what’s being portrayed isn’t from the Bible? My answer is yes. Let’s say a Christian made a horror film based on a real-life serial killer. A proper use of gore would be to show the brutality of the killer. Improper use of gore would be to just gross out the audience.
So where does that leave the Christian audience? Most of you reading this article don’t create films; you just enjoy them. Here’s my advice: follow the Christian creators in Hollywood. The best way to help change the culture is to put your money behind people who have the means and audience to change it.
Scott Derrickson is a great example. He has not only worked on a lot of Marvel movies, but he has been part of a lot of horror movies like “The Black Phone,” “Sinister,” and “Deliver Us from Evil.” These movies have spiritual aspects to them, and upon careful inspection, you can tell that a Christian was behind their production.
Here’s my challenge: be an aware audience when watching horror movies. Horror is a genre that should be approached with caution, and it’s easy to just watch horror movies and not think about the morality behind them. Christians can help shape the horror genre, and it starts with you.