Lest anyone think this is some kind of moralistic, finger-pointing rant, let me explain. I don't mean anti-Christian in the sense of slasher flicks glorifying gore and violence. If anything scary movies at least promote the idea of abstinence: lose your virginity, you lose your head! After all, those are the rules! But I digress. Last night I was watching Scream, one of my favorite horror flicks, at my man's house, when this curious thought popped into my mind. As the last scene played with Neve Campbell a.k.a Sidney Prescott, popping a cap in her psycho boyfriend Billy's head, I noticed something about many of the scary movies I love for the first time.
From Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Jeeper's Creepers and Halloween rarely, if ever, do you see any of the characters pray or call on God (or any diety for that matter) to save them from the horrible situation they've found themselves in. I mean if there were anytime to get on your knees or lift up holy hands it would be when a seemingly indestructible mass murdering psychopath is after you and hell bent on slicing you to bits (or in Freddy's case killing you in your dreams). In pretty much every single scary movie I watched the characters that survive do so because of their own ingenuity and courage in the face of indescribable fear.
Think about it: when Sidney finally learned the truth about her boyfriend and her mother's death, she didn't wallow in the corner praying and speaking in tongues hoping to be spared. Miss girl got up and took care of business. She found the resolve to defend her and her friends' lives from within, not from an outside source. When Jessica Biel saw her friends get slaughtered by Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the remake, not the original:), she relied on her own cunning to get the hell out of that house. Obviously The Excorcist is an exception to this rule, but for the most part, if you want to survive in a slasher flick you're left to your own devices.
Don't get me wrong. This not an attack on Christianity or any other religion. This is just an observation that many horror films, whether consciously or not, emphasis the triumph of the human spirit and will to survive over unspeakable evil. The day isn't saved by an all-powerful deity, but by ordinary folks forced to react to extraordinarily awful circumstances. Simply put, the main characters are their own saviors, which ultimately undermines the whole idea of God coming to people's rescue in times of trouble.
Of course this is all my hyper-analytical analysis. I, like most of the movie-going public, primarily go to see these films to get scared out of my mind and be entertained, and I doubt that Wes Craven or Rob Zombie thought that deeply when creating Scream or The Devil's Rejects. But I'm suprised more conservative Christians don't realize this subversive element in horror films. But then again it's only a movie. Or is it;)?