Question: I am a stable, educated healthcare professional and a devout Catholic who happens to love horror films, especially those with Catholic themes such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist,” “The Omen,” etc. I find them intelligent and incredibly faith affirming, which only strengthens my belief in God. Some of my Catholic friends worry that I am “opening up myself for dark influences” or “tempting evil.” What are your thoughts on horror movies?
— Name withheld, Scottsdale, Arizona
Answer: Balance in such matters is essential. Undue fascination with such things occurs when there is too much preoccupation with them, or when one starts to admire or emulate the evil that is depicted in such films. Too much time focusing on the dark things, warps our understanding of the world and makes the light seem harsh. Gratuitous violence in such media should also be avoided, and films or books that feature too much of it should be shunned.
That said, such films and other related genres generally exist as a kind of role play to prepare us for life’s challenges and our inevitable encounter with evil things and people. They teach us to be sober about the existence of evil and, at least in the best of these films, to learn that evil loses in the end and is overcome. You note that it seems to confirm your faith. That is good, but some balance is needed in which faith is also strengthened by those things that are good, beautiful, true and noble.