I recently read about this new movie that has opened in various cities across the States, Paranormal Activity. If you haven’t seen the trailer, see it (with caution) here.
It’s strange to me that people respond to horror films the way they do. Many (if not most) horror flicks have some element of the supernatural; usually it’s a major theme in the movie. The girl in Paranormal Activity is actively pursued by a demon who wants possession of her soul, according to reviews I’ve read. A guy moves in with her (obviously before he found out about her ‘baggage’) and, being the classic horror movie skeptic, decides to lure the demonic force into the open by buying a Ouija Board and taping the whole thing with a HD video camera. Of course, the spirit comes out does his scary movie horror thing.
Most people love imagining the supernatural, but they’re simultaneously convinced that it doesn’t exist outside a few movies or Stephen King novels. Nothing happens that can’t be explained by science. It tells us that there is a reason (and by this they mean empirical evidence) behind everything we experience.
But experience tells us that life is not a lab experiment. The unpredictable, uncontrollable, unexplainable happens all around us. What we know has replaced what we feel, because we can’t explain or make sense of emotion. No young man can explain why he loves his fiancée, he just loves. Few people want to think of themselves as random DNA mixtures, and even fewer want to think that when they die, they no longer exist. But they define existence biologically, and when biology fails us and our heart stops and our eyes close and we stop breathing, it’s over. Nothing.
But we don’t really think that. We don’t really feel that. When our senses and mind confuse us, we all want to believe that there’s something more than what we see.
Horror movies are interesting windows into our consciousness. They’re built on classic stimulus response theory. People are most scared by what they most fear. And the thought of you or someone you love being haunted by something that can’t be controlled is terrifying. And if you catch us in an unguarded moment, we jump. Or scream. Even the smart ones. And that’s because we believe in something more than what we think.
Also, question: How should Christians respond to horror movies that make light of the supernatural? Demon activity is very real and very scary. Satan actually works like that all over the world. Should we watch movies like this? How should we evaluate them? Perhaps the worst response is to pretend it’s make-believe, because it’s not. Give me your impressions in the comments section.