I love horror! Yes, I admit it. I am a huge fan of the horror genre. My favorite subgenres are supernatural thrillers and creature features; think Poltergeist, Jurassic Park, The Mist, etc. There are also a few slasher films that hold a special place in my heart, specifically the Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street series. Bloody good fun all around.
Oh, and I should mention that I am a fundamental, some would say almost fanatical, Christian. How can this be? How can I love horror and be a deeply devoted Christian? Aren’t these two ideals in direct opposition to each other? Nothing could be farther from the truth.
As I was reminded by Pastor Chris Weeks of Kent City Baptist Church there is much horror to found in the bible. His explanation of the depiction of sin in Luke 5:12 -26, which compares a revolting, oozing, outcast leper to sin is a far cry from the modern interpretation. Many in today’s churches wink at sin, or avoid the topic altogether, instead of vigorously warning people against the ravaging, disfiguring, destructive force that it is. In fact, many in our culture view sin as something to lament as a missed opportunity, instead of the death-bringing curse that it is.
That brings me back to the compatibility of Christianity with horror. What other genre allows its storytellers to crawl into the depths of depravity to show how truly corrosive evil is to the human soul? Most of the time these horror stories have characters who fight against the darkness with strength, courage, and sometimes pure stupidity, and place themselves into the gap between the monsters and the rest of the world. Is there a more powerful medium that can illustrate the redemptive rise from the deepest pits of hell than the backdrop of a well told scary story?
I have met many people who immediately recoil at the very idea of reading or watching horror. Whether it is the suspense of not knowing what is lurking around the corner, or the explicit gore, many people are rightly repulsed by those parts of the story. But what they miss is that these vivid descriptions are usually devices to illustrate a wider point about facing our deepest fears, fighting the external or internal monsters tormenting us, and if we survive the ordeal, coming out on the other side stronger and wiser.
Jesus himself suffered the worst kind of torment to the point of being unrecognizable to his followers, and was killed in the most brutal way imaginable at that time in history. And yet out of that terrible circumstance, He rose from the grave, conquered death, and backhanded the devil into his rightful place. Anyone who feels horror and Christianity are incompatible do not have a full view of the lengths God himself went to in showing us the greatest act of love through the worst circumstance possible.
So, the next time a person is tempted to dismiss horror out of hand, be sure to remind them that the salvation they may or may not accept came at the expense of the greatest blood sacrifice that was ever performed. That ought to silence the critics. At least for a moment…
JESS HANNA is an author of supernatural thrillers that explore spiritual themes. As a devoted follower of Christ, Jess aims to write stories that intrigue and entertain while tirelessly pursuing the truth. He resides in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife, and works in the publishing industry.