What I remember the most about Nightmare on Elm Street IV is that my sleeping bag tasted horrible. When you’re watching your first horror movie at a sleepover and it involves a guy with knives for fingers, you tend to spend a lot of the night nervously chewing the edges of your blanket. Fear will do that to you.
Truth be told, when I wasn’t trying to hide the fact that I was a big scaredy-pants from my freshman friends, I was actually having a blast. And the more horror movies I watched, the better they got. There’s something fun and exciting about being scared by a movie—especially when you’re with friends or in a crowded theater. These killings aren’t real, I told myself. Why not enjoy it? So I did. My friends and I laughed at the cheesy bloody special effects. We imitated gruesome murder scenes. We even cheered Freddy on as he chased down victims.
I think that’s when I realized that something wasn’t completely right.
I never shared these feelings with my friends. But now that I think about it, I realize that part of what bothered me was the way the movie portrayed supernatural evil. I’d read about demons and Satan in the Bible, but this was my first experience with evil in film.
It’s true that supernatural horror movies and TV shows about the demonic and the occult can often be fun, intriguing, suspenseful confrontations with evil. Movies like Frailty, Final Destination, The Ring, and the Halloween series keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Television shows like Angel, Charmed, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer present fights between good and evil. We get to watch battles between truly bad bad guys and the good guys—who often have supernatural powers of their own.
And these films and shows often affirm what we know from the Bible: that evil is very real, and it often pursues us.
But how should we deal with TV shows and films that depict the use of magic, occult activity, or glorified violence? God wants us to be smart and use good judgment (Proverbs 15:14 and 17:24). So we have to ask ourselves some serious questions as we’re deciding what to watch.
First Things First
The first question we should ask is very basic: Should I watch this at all? After all, we’re supposed to do the best we can to keep a clean mind and a pure heart. And if something we’re going to watch will hurt our efforts, then we’re better off not dealing with it.
How should we decide if something is worth watching? Well, the first thing we should do is pray for God’s guidance—and really be interested in his answer.
It’s also a good idea to take some time to do some research on a film or show. What’s the plot line? What’s it rated, and what are the reasons for the rating? (For example, does it have a lot of unnecessary violence or does it include inappropriate sexual themes?) What do Christian entertainment critics say about it? A lot of this information is available online (see “To Watch or Not to Watch” at the end of this article for some helpful sites).