Posts Tagged ‘exorcism’

Constantine

November 12, 2009

What Is It?

Based on a comic book called “Hellblazer,” this is the story of John Constantine (Keanu Reeves). John is a chain smoking, exorcist. He has never repented but tries to drive out demons to earn his way to heaven. Lately the demons are doing something new. As he searches for answers, his friends and confidants all get killed. He also meets a woman cop (Rachel Weisz) who’s twin sister (same actress) has just killed herself. The cop and Constantine go on a quest through our world and the unseen spiritual world (which both of them can see) to restore a balance and keep us alive.

How Was It?

There is a very high “Hipness” factor here. The angel Gabrielle  (Tilda Swinton)is super cool, and most of the special effects are good. Still when he “kills” a boss demon, it looked like a kid animated the scene with his Nintendo.

The plot does not go anywhere. Characters either do not change, or switch sides for absolutely no reason. (Some then switch back with just as much explanation.) The movie makes up rules for the way the supernatural works. It often has to stop to tell us all of them. Unfortunately most of the “spiritual” stuff seems like they are making it up as they go along. Then the movie does not even follow its own rules.

It would be a lot better if no one spoke, so you never had to deal with there poor attempt at a plot.

Is It Good For Kids?

This film is very intense. It takes you to hell a couple of times. It also introduces you to demons, and often has lots of monsters just coming out of nowhere. The language isn’t good and there is no pervasive nudity, but the attractive woman cop often ends up completely wet.

You can check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete breakdown of elements shown on the screen.

Also, as you will see in the next question, the information about God and the spiritual world is at best confusing and at worst heresy.

How about Spiritual Issues?

Religion, as my wife pointed out, is a prop in this film. If it works they use it and if it doesn’t they use what ever else.

At points the theology seems to be going well. The Angel Gabriel answers John’s accusation of God being unfair with “you are going to die because you have smoked 3 packs a day since you were 15 and you are going to hell because of the life you took, so your ****ed” She then explains that he can’t buy his way into heaven, but could just repent and believe in God so he can be saved. It even goes as far as explaining the difference between “knowing” God is there and “Believing” in him.

Still all this goes out the window and is contradicted through out the film. Then the rest is just sad.

John explains that God and Satan have a bet to see who can get the most followers just by influence and never by actual action. (Though there is evidence of both sides acting on people all the time.) He later says that God doesn’t care; he’s just a “Kid with an ant farm.”

Suicide is looked at as a one way ticket to Hell. The two suicides we see in the film are both rejections of God.

The Roman Catholic Church is the only church shown. We only meet 2 priests. The first is only there to tell the surviving twin that her sister’s suicide makes it so she can not have a Catholic funeral.

The other (Pruitt Taylor Vince) is a scary looking fat guy who drinks like mad to avoid having to think about the demons. He finally drinks himself to death during a rampage in a liquor store.

(This is where I spoil the end)

Later Gabriel switches sides and tries to help Satan’s son come into the world. After Satan (Peter Stormare) stops her (he doesn’t want Jr. taking over), she is punished and becomes human. (This is an odd punishment because earlier she pointed out, very Biblically, that she was jealous of humans because they can repent and become children of God.)

John uses suicide to trick Satan into letting him go to heaven. Then Satan chooses to heal John so he doesn’t die. Biblically God is the only one who can heal or has power over who lives and who dies.

What Is Your Recommendation?

Nope.

 

The film is not good and the script is bad and the theology is terrible. I guess if you’re just in the mood to play “find the heresy”, maybe…. Or if you have a friend who wanted to talk to you about “Is that true?”

Even the totally un-theological “Roger Ebert” said the film was just silly because he spends the whole time trying to earn his way into heaven when “You don’t have to kill these demons to earn your way into heaven because any sin can be forgiven..” Amen

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose

November 21, 2008

exorcism_of_emily_rose

What Is It?

This is a bizarre movie about a court case. It is a standard format. We see the lawyers chosen and hired. Then the case goes on, each side presenting their interpretations of the situation followed by a scene of the event they were describing with the slant of the particular presenter.

This becomes interesting when you find out that the court case is a negligent homicide case against a Catholic Priest. It seems that under the Priest’s council, Emily Rose and family decided that her condition was not epilepsy, but demonic possession. They then stopped her medication in favor of an exorcism…. An exorcism that didn’t work. Soon after, she was dead. And now the priest who tried to save her puts his freedom on the line simply to use the court procedure to tell Emily’s story. A story that is based on a true court case that happened in Germany

How Was It?

I am impressed. This took the indie-film making credo and used it to its highest degree. It used plenty of special effects, but never relied on them. Rather the tense and scary mood of the film relies on its cast, script and director to deliver the goods, with effects added as spice.

This movie takes you to places you may have never wanted to go, but gives you reason and hope for bringing you there. I had read that the goal of writer director Scott Derrickson was to make believers question their beliefs and doubters doubt their doubts… I only know my reaction, but he has a firm shot of making his goal a reality with this film.

Is It Good For Kids?

(Spoiler) It is true that most of the horror effects are similar to those used in “Batman Begins.” With Batman’s “Scarecrow,” similar effects were done much more graphically and intense. But as I mentioned earlier, there was a lot more than special effects going into the horror feel.

(Summary without Spoilers) This is a scary movie and will give kids nightmares.

For a complete breakdown of what is on the screen, check www.ScreenIt.com.

How about Spiritual Issues?

Everything in this movie is a spiritual issue. (Slight Spoiler) The judges final ruling has a lot of Christian symbolism (More of a spoiler) Within the letter that Emily wrote to the priest, she explains that she believes that God is allowing this so that Emily can, sacrificially, show the world that the spiritual realm is real.

(Total Spoiler) In the closing arguments the prosecution asserts that all of this can be explained away by scientific means. The defense then offers a compelling summary of the movie. She explains that whatever you believe, there is either a God or there is not, a devil, angels, demons, or there are not. She tells you that you don’t have to believe everything the way the priest does, but would you consider the idea that there is a supernatural realm. The lawyer and the movie ask us to take some time and just consider: Is it possible that these things exist?

This is a perfect Pre-Evangelical movie.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you can take creepy, see the movie, bring friends, and plan on going out for dinner afterward because you will have a lot to talk about. (It’s scary, not gory. You will be able to eat.) You are made the jury, now you need to go deliberate.

You can now watch the FULL MOVIE on Hulu!

A Look at Horror, Monster and Scary Movies

October 11, 2008

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

 

We are in an odd season. Here we are celebrating things that “go bump in the night”. TV and movies have joined the festivities. So, with little hope of finding “Harvest Party the Movie”, what is a Christian to do?  

If we look in the Bible, what do we see in regards to evil and monsters?

From Cain and Abel to the martyring of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation, we see all manner of evil acts by all manner of people. The prophet Daniel sees a vision of monsters attacking the world, John sees a great dragon chase a woman to devour her baby.  Even the living creators that encircle the throne of God have a monstrous edge to them. So if the Bible does not shy away from evil, and even monsters like demons, dragons and Satan himself, what do we do with modern depictions of them?
 

First, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”   As Christians, it is not only our duty to avoid participation in evil, but to show evil for what it truly is.

Film writer/director Scott Derrickson told World Magazine “Horror is the genre with the most sensitive moral compass. No other genre defines good and evil better. No other genre allows for spiritual and religious  ntent more than horror…The danger of the genre is that it can easily cross over into exploitation”   So what is being shown to us in the movies?

In “The Screwtape Letters” CScott Derrickson.S. Lewis said that demons (the teachers of evil ideas 1 Timothy 4:1) either want us to believe that they do not exist or be obsessed with them. We see this in film today. Most movies that include monsters and images of evil are either harmless because we do not believe in “real” evil. Movies like Scary Movie” and “Casper” just use these images as something to laugh or cue at. Or, in “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas“, darkness is just there for goth teens to say “cool” under their breath. Then there is the other side, focused too much. Movies like “Freddie vs. Jason” and “Scream” present killings and evil in a pornographic manner for us to revel in.  

So do we ever see anyone get it right?

Movies that present evil as something hideous and terrible, and at the same time, not something to revel in? J.R.R. Tolkien said that the best “fairy” stories are not primarily concerned with the fairies themselves, but he people in the stories. The magical element helps us to see a bit of the human condition. The same is true of the best monster movies. It turns out that monsters of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s  were just that. The idea of many was that turning from God and His natural order produces monsters.

Dracula  was a parody of Jesus, an anti-Jesus who was stopped by the power of Christ. It was a graphic llustration of the biblical fact that those who are living in their sins are dead, though they live. (1 Timothy 5:6) Frankenstein was trying to take the place of God and create a person in his own image. Dr. Jekyll was trying to separate himself from his evil side without God. Instead he created and fed a monster who was a personification of his “fleshly lusts” (thus the name “Hyde”). Movies made about these characters don’t allways stick to the source material, and thus the original symbolism. (While the 1940’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde expanded on the Biblical symbolism, “Mary Riley” is  Jekyll and Hyde story that tones down the human nature – sin stuff.) Some just take the monsters and use them for cheap thrills with no real meaning (“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, “Van Helsing”).  

 

You can see a biblical use of monster symbolism in the vampire flick “The Addiction.” Here being a vampire is only the full realization of your sin nature. A philosophy student (played by Lili Taylor) deals with the problem of evil in the world as she fights her longing for blood now that she is a vampire. She goes through every philosophy of dealing with her sin nature from Buddhism (with Christopher Walken) to Hedonism
(one of the grossest scenes in the film). Finally (Spoiler) with quotes from “R.C. Sprol” she takes communion and Jesus Christ is the answer to vampirism and our sin nature.  

 

In “Deceived” a group of scientists, clergy, and military men are trying to contact aliens. Here they are trying to use these communications from the aliens as a source of salvation outside of God (though the more they interact with the alien’s messages, the more they are driven to horrible and sinful acts from greed/lust to
murder).  (Spoiler) The source of the transmissions is demons and Biblical salvation is the only way to protect yourself from its influence.  

 

In M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Village” the people are surrounded by woods where horrible creatures live, but  he movie is really an experiment in human nature. It explores the question: “Is society the cause of evil, or is man inherently sinful?”.

 

In his earlier film, “Signs“, the monsters are aliens in the sky. As Mel Gibson and the rest of the cast worry and wonder about the creatures’ existence, M. Night’s movie asks the question: “If there is something evil coming to you, is God there to take care of you?”.  

 

Aforementioned filmmaker Scott Derrickson invites the audience to consider if it’s possible that a spiritual world could exist in the courtroom drama/demonic thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.  

 

Then, on the other end of the scale, there is the Frank Perettie adaptation of “The Hang Man’s Curse“. A highly trained Christian family takes on a school that is plagued by cult activities and its curse. The feel is on a par with “Buffy/Angel” style production and speaks to the issues of suicide and the sanctity of life.

Also from Perettie, The Visitation is a “direct to video” horror… e r… creepy film. A Midwest town is put on the map when miraculous signs start invading their benign existence. From supernatural healings to the likeness of Jesus’ face in the stained tile of the bathroom wall, everyone is touched by the accompanying message : “He Is Coming.” Revival meetings start. One pastor (Randy Travis) believes this may be demonic. One former pastor (Martin Donovan) believes this may be linked to the ritualistic murder of his wife. One mom  (Kelly Lynch) is fearful her son (Noah Segan) is in danger and the son, along with most the town, believes that a messiah has come for them… and maybe he has.

 

You could go back a couple more years to “Bless the Child.” Here a little girl is anointed by God to lead many to Him. Thus a demonically powered cult (with a “new age” cover) tries to destroy the girl. It’s a b movie with
it’s heart in the right place. The problem with this one is that it is not clear if the girl is a “type” of Christ Biblically pointing to Him with similarities) or a “new Christ” (blasphemously replacing Him).

 

Finaly, we have “Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Here we get a ghost story with pirates, and Johny Depp… how cool is that. Once again, going against God creates monsters. There are plenty of refernces to Biblical Christianity to say we are going with that world view. The Pirates have stolen gold from heathen gods, and now, they have wealth and power, but no pleasure. The greed for wealth has poisoned everything else, creating creatures that are not dead, but they are not really living. There is also
a great conversation that goes in very well with Matthew 6:21.

What is Your Recommendation?

Maybe this October 31, you will want to have a little “truth about evil” film festival while you and your friends enjoy popcorn and snacks, as you hand out full-sized candy bars (with invitations to your church youth group and “Do You Want To Know God Personally” books strapped to them) to any spooks that happen to interrupt, as they pass by. Who knows, a “Hey, whatcha watchin’?” may turn into one of the most important conversations of their life.