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The Problem with Catholicism in Horror Movies

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The Problem with Catholicism in Horror Movies

The theatrical release poster for

The theatrical release poster for "The Nun".

Hannah Shulski

The theatrical release poster for "The Nun".

Hannah Shulski

Hannah Shulski

The theatrical release poster for "The Nun".

Hannah Shulski, Faith in Action Editor

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   Hollywood has a history of using the Catholic faith as a backdrop for its horror movies. From the classic film The Exorcist to the recent flick The Nun, there definitely is a strong religious presence in plenty of the genre’s favorites. However, some people refuse to watch these movies about possession, even though they are fictional. How could a made-up story such as The Nun truly terrify its audience?  

   Resident Xavier priest Father Kevin Grimditch has some answers. Although he has not seen The Nun, he is worried about “how faith can be presented” in the 2018 blockbuster about a nun who becomes possessed by a malevolent demon. Father Kevin believes that films like The Nun and The Exorcist help their audience maintain a “healthy fear of the supernatural”, but he is critical of the representation of Catholicism in media, especially since the priests and nuns in these films are “token” and there is no evidence that “God is more powerful” than the satanic forces shown in movies.

   One thing to note is how the figures from the Catholic Church differ in the two films. In The Exorcist, two Jesuit priests sacrifice their lives to save a young girl who is possessed by a dangerous spirit. In The Nun, a nun actually becomes possessed by an evil demon, forcing her to kill and terrorize her fellow sisters. What makes The Nun really horrifying is the fact that it takes a Catholic symbol as holy and loving as a nun and twists it, distorting it into something malicious. It isn’t just the religious figures that are presented wrongly in The Nun, however.  Xavier senior Indigo Pinedo, who watched The Nun in theatres, believes that the Catholic Church was “horribly represented” in the film, adding that a crucial plot point in the blockbuster was that a man “participating in the dark arts opened the nun’s convent”, something that the Church would never allow in real life.

   Personally, I enjoy movies about demonic possession to an extent.  As a Catholic and a fan of horror, I appreciate The Exorcist for its honest portrayal of the selflessness of everyday priests, but I am doubtful if I actually want to watch The Nun. The Catholic elementary school that I attended from first to eighth grade was run by a friendly group of nuns, and all Xavier students know and love the sisters of the BVM that manage our school. Seeing something that is sacred to my fellow Catholics and I being depicted violently on the big screen is not the way I want to spend my time.

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The Problem with Catholicism in Horror Movies