Horror and Religion

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Genre Paper Midterm
October 12, 2012
Argument Assessment
The article, The Sanctification of Fear: Images of the Religious in Horror Films, by Bryan Stone explains that horror films act as “[…] a threat and a catharsis by confronting us with our fear of death, the supernatural, the unknown and irrational, 'the other’ in general, a loss of identity, and forces beyond our control”(Stone). Over the past century, religious themes have played a prominent role in addressing these ideas. “That role is, at the same time, ambiguous insofar as religious iconography has become unhinged from a compelling moral vision and reduced to mere conventions that produce a quasi-religious quality to horror that lacks the symbolic power required to engage us at the deepest level of our being. Although religious symbols in horror films are conventional in their frequent use, they may have lost all connection to deeper human questions” (Stone). There are many articles and books that discuss the use of religion in horror films, but Stone sheds light on this subject an interesting way. Instead of asking the question of “why religion is used so often in a scary story” (Cowan), or why “Religion and horror are inextricably tied to one another” (Broaddus), he asks is it “weakening the connection to deeper human questions?”(Stone). It is no surprise that religion and horror fight each other. Horror films repulse us, undermine us, and demoralize us, but we are still drawn to it. Religion is the polar opposite of this idea, which is why there will always be conflicts between the two. Stone touches on moral issues like the methods of science in horror films and a new openness to the spiritual realm instead of focusing on how the films depict gender, race, and nature. When I watch a horror film I am usually bothered by them. Recently I have gotten into films and shows about zombies, but before that I was a romantic comedy, action, or thriller kind of a person. I am bothered by horror films when they bring in elements of the spiritual realm. Films like The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, and The Omen bring in themes of the anti-Christ and demons. These are things that I believe are real so it blurs the line of fact and fiction which makes me frightened. I agree with what Stone is presenting in his article and appreciate that he is discussing these topics. Stone covers concepts like vampires, the method of science in horror films, Satan, horror from nature, and psychological horror. The opposite point of view to what Stone brings up would state that horror films are essential to religious iconography and strengthens moral issues. It would state that bringing religion into the horror genre penetrates us to the core and incorporating the symbols that strengthen deeper human questions. Stating that horror films are demoralizing would be considered wrong, and going to them for truths would be right. It would be a world of fear, spiritual turmoil, and discomfort. Stone addresses the myth of the horror genre by stating that the “fear of death, the supernatural, the unknown and irrational, 'the other’ in general, a loss of identity, and forces beyond our control” (Stone) are the underlining stories in all horror films. When touching on the convention of the genre and the iconography, Stone states that, “religious iconography has become unhinged from a compelling moral vision and reduced to mere conventions that produce a quasi-religious quality to horror that lacks the symbolic power required to engage us at the deepest level of our being” (Stone). Stone interprets the genre as an “ambiguous relationship between religion and film [and this] is nowhere more evident than in the case of horror films” (Stone). The very nature of horror films, since their beginning, brings in elements of life after death, the depiction of God, and the end of time. It is a genre that draws up deeper questions and forces you to look at what you believe, especially...
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