By Guest Writer Kate Harveston
Whether you notice it or not, horror movie plots hold very strong Christian ties. The screenwriters of The Conjuring 2 even did an entire interview with a Christian news outlet about how their movie was “told through the eyes of believers whose strongest weapon is their faith in God.” Christian symbolism appears everywhere, with exorcisms being a prominent horror movie staple and crucifixes regularly used as weapons against demons.
But Christianity is also employed in horror movies in a way that you might not have noticed.
We’ve all heard the joke that a scary movie isn’t a scary movie without a sex scene. You’ve seen it. The one where a quintessential “dumb blonde” takes off her top at some point and also inevitably ends up being one of the first ones offed. Or some similar scenario.
The “Death by Sex” trope is surely something you’ve witnessed in horror films even if you didn’t think twice about it. Oftentimes, if characters engage in sexual activity, it’s a death sentence. Why?
Premarital Sex Means Death, Naturally
Horror classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th set horror movies up for this tired trope. The nice girl who doesn’t drink, smoke or have sex is almost always the one who survives, and may even be the hero. But her friend who ran off with a guy to fool around is one of the first ones offed. Christians often preach that premarital sex is a sin, and what symbolism is more obvious for that than young people literally being killed after engaging in premarital sex?
A Nightmare on Elm Street also highlights this when a girl who has sex with her boyfriend is immediately killed, but the girl who refuses her boyfriend’s advances survives. Horror repeatedly seems to emphasize this theme, and female characters in particular are targeted when they engage in sexual activity.
A more modern movie, It Follows, is literally about evil being passed on through sex. The entity is passed onto someone through sex, which basically curses them to die. The only way anyone can truly be safe in this movie is to not have sex at all. Seems easy enough, right?!
Horror movie killers target those who have tarnished their purity. The ones who are good and chaste can survive because their purity is intact. Therefore they’re the “good guys” and are worth being saved.
But It’s Not Just Sex
Though the “Death by Sex” trope is certainly one of the most popular ones, people in horror movies are also frequently killed due to other things Christian values would deem inappropriate or sinful. For example, partying, drinking teenagers are often easy targets for horror movie killers. However, the one who declines to join in on the fun usually makes it through to the end of the movie alive.
Any religion that’s not Christianity is also immediately demonized. Moviemakers take religions like Wicca and Voodoo and instantly make their members into crazed witches and demon worshippers who dabble in dark magic to harm others. It sends the message that religions that aren’t Christianity aren’t legitimate and are a danger to society.
Something as harmless as a Ouija board is also used as an object of terror because it’s connected with the “occult.” When children or teens in horror movies play with a Ouija board, one of them usually ends up possessed. However, the Christian priest can come in to save the day with a good ‘ole exorcism.
Most of us know by now that the dominance of Christian values in our society manifests itself in our entertainment. Horror movies, ironically frowned upon by many Christian leaders and congregations, actually contain an abundance of Christian values too. Maybe Christians should give the horror movie genre more of a chance.
Because, hey, we all know open-mindedness is a key staple of organized religion.
Kate Harveston, political writer and blogger, at www.onlyslightlybiased.com
December 30, 2017