Horror Movies More Sadistic

From the August 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Gore is good. Severed body parts and flesh-eating viruses are even better—at least for box offices and movie producers. Since last fall, 10 horror movies have topped the box office.

Every few years or so, horror becomes the fad in Hollywood. Each wave of horror movies is more violent and grotesque. Movie companies are eager to capitalize on a growing movie audience that has a voracious appetite for evil.

Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films (the company that released the movie Hostel, for which previews alone were horrific enough to cause people to pass out), felt no shame for his money-making strategy. When questioned by Newsweek, Ortenberg said, “When we see a void in the market, we do our best to fill it. And we didn’t feel that there were enough, or really any, R-rated … horror films out there” (April 3).

As movies are becoming bloodier, the violence portrayed in movies is also becoming more real. Bob Weinstein, the executive producer of Scream, described the filmmakers as now having the ability “to put viewers directly into the shoes of the victims going through these horrible things, in an almost documentary way” (ibid.; emphasis ours). Filmmakers not only show vivid violence on the movie screen—they make you live it. Some actually endeavor to put viewers inside the mind of the killer.

Some of the latest horror films are so purely sadistic that even seasoned, battle-hardened movie critics are asking some basic questions about what the point of all this obsession with evil is.

Occasionally some fallow-headed filmmaker or social scientist will try to explain how this playing out of horror fantasies provides some kind of catharsis, serving the “greater good.”

Such arguments are simply wrong. No good can come from allowing graphic descriptions of revolting acts of murder and rape into our minds. No good motivates those producing such lurid content. No good draws people to watch. Surely we should be able to recognize evil when we see it.

Our increasing fascination with darkness belies the common idea that deep down, people’s hearts are good. In fact, it supports the polar opposite and little-believed scriptural pronouncement, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Evil is a drug. People by the millions are hooked and constantly craving stronger doses. The Apostle Paul used a powerful analogy when he compared sin to a slave owner: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

God, in whom is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), tells us that the way to be free from evil is to shun it—not entertain it.

For criminals in ancient Israel, God did not want the people of the nation to “get inside their minds”; He ordered them to “put the evil away from among you” (Deuteronomy 17:7). For the woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus Christ did not try to understand what motivated her lawlessness. He perceived her sincere repentance, forgave her and commanded her to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). The same principle motivated both instructions.

Some would say the Bible itself dwells on evil, with its descriptions of wars, murders, rapes and betrayals. But the difference between the Bible and any horror show is a profound one.

Much of popular culture, in portraying the evils of human nature, seeks to titillate and hook people into an increasingly demented world of wickedness. Even while labeling something bad, pop culture glamorizes it; the bad guys are always the most seductive. Resolution, if it comes, arises from within the person, or from professional help.

Contrarily, the Bible, in describing such evils, simply and justifiably supports its main purpose: to show how much man needs God.

That is a lesson we can never afford to forget. Recognize the evil within your own heart, and you realize how much you need God to replace it with something better.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). That is the way to break evil’s hold on your mind. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).