As part of an ongoing effort to actively engage with film beyond its entertainment value, this area of my website will be dedicated to looking at aspects of film as they reflect in my faith. Spoilers abound. Hope you enjoy.
Ah, the horror movie genre, also known as the types of movies I avoid at all cost. Listen, it’s no secret that I don’t do scary. Jump scares and disturbing images, weird creatures and creepy voices do not a good movie experience make. But in 2017, a new adaptation of Stephen King’s novel IT graced the theaters, and with it, curiosity.
I grew up with the made-for-tv movie back in 1990. It scared the crap out of me back then. These days I look on it with fondness, and even entertainment. It’s easily digestible because of its dated effects and restrained visuals due to the television outlet. Because of that, I have been able to appreciate the story more and more, it’s themes of facing your fears and strength in community.
It’s with that in mind that I attempted to take on the 2017 edition. However, as the days grew closer I found myself getting anxious, not in anticipation for the movie experience, but of all of the potential thoughts and images that would haunt me for the days and weeks following. I wasn’t looking forward to it.
A couple of days prior, I sought out some wisdom from a friend. He gave me the following advice:
Remember that dread can be far worse than what actually happens. That’s how scary films work, they ignite dread. Remind yourself that the dread of a thing is more powerful at times than the thing itself, and take those dreadful thoughts captive. Your imagination can be made subject to what you choose to focus on.
Also, remember that facing our fears — the real ones and the imaginary clowns — can be a truly freeing exercise. In the right contexts, it can purge some of our most dreadful thoughts and ignite and embolden us elsewhere.
The lingering power fear has is because of the seeds it plants in our imagination. They dig deep and try to convince us that the monsters waiting around the corner are more powerful than any hope, strength, or faith we may possess.
So never forget…They’re liars. They lie.
With that awareness in mind, actively plant the seeds in your own imagination that will remind you of the truth:
That you are loved beyond the boundaries of this world. That greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. And that the worst thing that could ever happen, already has — the Lord died.
And mustn’t ever forget how that turned out.
– Reed Lackey
So, empowered by those words of wisdom, I walked into a darkened theater, sat down, started watching the movie……
And promptly covered my eyes during all of the scary parts.
I know, I know. I failed. I honestly wanted to watch the whole thing. I wanted to literally look my fears in the face like those seven losers, and take down the Pennywise of my life. I felt frustrated, disappointed, and weak.
But after thinking about it for a few days, I realized another truth. I realized that I have limits, that some things aren’t for me. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthian church, “‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is edifying.”
I think I realized that the discomfort I feel during horror takes away from my personal movie experience. I wish it didn’t because I don’t get that completeness. This experience just confirmed that limitation in me. Ultimately though, I’m okay with that, and there is freedom that comes when I understand what is beneficial and edifying to my walk.
There’s truth to what Reed spoke to me, and that truth will stay with me as I face the other real fears in my life. But through Christ, I have the power to overcome anything. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I can face those things with confidence.
As for scary movies? I’ll stick with the classics.
If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the film from a cinematic standpoint, check out the Feelin Film episode HERE.