Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Horror as Philosophy of Religion?

A trailer has been released for the latest brainless horror flick, “Apparition.” It is presenting itself as a thought provoking, intelligent story, but the trailer puts that angle in question. It is trying to capitalize on an idea that has been around in speculative fiction for some time: the idea that faith and supernatural phenomenon might be connected. The problem is that this film misunderstands that relationship as it has traditionally been developed. The tag line is: “Once you believe, you die.” The idea is that belief itself actually produces supernatural realities. That is stupid.

The way this sort of story usually works actually makes sense. The idea is that supernatural beings of some sort do exist, but they feed or desire something from people. The belief in these beings, and more importantly their worship, is what makes these entities strong. Worship is closely related to awe, so fear works about as well as anything.

Perhaps the best interpretation of this idea on film is in the cult horror story “Candyman.” In this film, (similarly to the new “Apparition”) college grad students are working on a thesis. In this case they are studying folklore and they stumble upon the urban legend of Candyman in the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Their studies create an explanation for events there that cause people to doubt Candyman’s existence, so he orchestrates events to feed the legend and maintain his cult.

It is a horror movie, and not the stuff of cinematic greatness, but it is a smart story—almost an exercise in philosophy of religion. “Apparition” looks like it will be an utter waste of time and money.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...don't hold back...tell us what you really think :)

    ReplyDelete

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