Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts on Christian Horror: The Villains of Horror

Horror is a genre whose antagonists are divided between the speculative and the terrifyingly real. On the one side are vampires, ghosts, Lovecraftian dark gods, and all sorts of fantastical creatures of the night. On the other side are serial killers and other chilling dangers that we might see on the nightly news, such as killer bees.

These two sides are not opposed to each other. They are both filled with nightmarish characters who have only one purpose: To frighten, harm, and if possible, kill any humans who they can get into their malevolent grasp.

Some people may wonder why horror authors write about such grotesque characters. If an author has the right motives, one of the reasons he will delve into the darkness is because, whether they are real or imagined, the villains of horror remind us that we all have a real villain in our own lives: The devil.

The original villain

The devil is the original villain. He sucks the life out of people like a vampire, seducing them into sins that destroy them. He haunts them like a ghost, reminding them of past sins and continually seeking to tempt them.

Perhaps what he loves most of all is to get us to worship him instead of God, promising endless pleasures that he will never deliver. He’ll dangle sinful bait in front of us, set his hook, and then starting reeling us towards hell.

The devil, like a serial killer, tries to murder your family and friends and neighbors and even you with lies that cut deeper than the sharpest knife. He’ll say that God isn’t real, that the Bible can’t be true, and that sin won’t hurt you. Hell is filled with human trophies from his ongoing killing spree.

Like killer bees, he buzzes all through our lives, stinging us with trouble and tricks, trying to take our eyes away from God. He promises honey, then paralyzes us with his venom, and pours bitter sticky consequences down our throats to try to make us choke to death.

Anyone can become a villain

One of the tricks the devil tries to pull is to make us into villains like him. He wants to turn us into vampires who suck the life out of people with cruel words. He wants to turn us into ghosts who haunt others with bitterness and selfishness.

He wants us to see ourselves as gods and get us to look down on others with pride and hatred. He wants to turn us into serial killers who slaughter each bit of our innocence and righteousness with blades of lust and greed.

He wants us, like killer bees, to gather into mobs of self-righteous sinners who tear down the truly righteous and who push other sinners into deeper sin. If we fall for the illusions of the devil, we’ll become monsters just like him.

If all the villains of all horror stories ever written were combined, they would still not be as diabolical as the devil himself. All villains owe their villainy to their dark master, for they display some of his hellish characteristics.

The devil beside us

Christian horror should remind us to watch out for the ways the devil tries to lead us astray, whether it be through tempting our hearts with his own whispers, or through sending a variety of angels of light to try to lure us into unending night.

Whether the villains in horror are speculative or based on real threats, they give us a glimpse of what the devil is truly like. This should not lead us to despair at such evil, but should instead cause us to lift our eyes to the light and salvation of God.

Though the devil is beside us, God is not just beside us but within us, and He will watch over us and help us resist temptation. God wants us to do our best to fight and destroy evil with the sword of His Word. Ultimately, Jesus will return and cast all evil into hell with the devil.

Christian horror must not have monstrous villains for the fun of it, but for what such villains can teach us about the devil, about ourselves, and about salvation. We live in a sinful world, where a villain wants to destroy us and will try to recruit us to be villainous just like him. Thankfully, we have a Savior.

Do you agree?

The previous article in the Thoughts on Christian Horror series: The Wages of Sin


  1. Another good post, Jonathan. :) I love the way you're showing that as Christians, we use the reality of darkness to point toward the light of Christ.

  2. Good points, Jonathan. A convincing villain can be difficult to pull off, but powerful. :)