A photo capturing a person reading the Bible with a horrified expression while sitting in a dark room surrounded by horror movie posters.

What Does The Bible Say About Watching Horror Movies?

Horror movies have been popular for decades, providing thrills and chills to audiences. But as Christians, what does the Bible say about watching horror films? Should we avoid them completely, or is it okay in moderation?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible does not directly prohibit watching horror movies. However, Christians are called to focus their minds on what is pure, noble, and praiseworthy.

So believers should be cautious about horror movies and avoid those promoting evil or causing them to sin.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at relevant biblical principles regarding entertainment choices, the effects of horror movies, and guidance for Christians who enjoy the horror genre.

Biblical Principles for Entertainment Choices

Philippians 4:8 – Think About What Is Pure

The Bible encourages Christians to focus their minds on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). This provides guidance when considering forms of entertainment that may contain violence, fear, lust, or other content that is impure or questionable.

Specifically regarding horror movies, much of the content tends to be centered around themes of evil, violence, gore, darkness, fear, and the demonic. While artistic merit may exist in some cases, prolonged exposure to such themes risks desensitizing our consciences and dulling our ability to discern light from darkness.

Romans 12:2 – Do Not Conform to the Pattern of this World

Romans 12:2 instructs believers to not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind. This implies being careful regarding the influences we allow to shape our thinking and values.

Horror films often reflect values of the secular world more than those of Scripture. The prevalence and profitability of the horror genre demonstrates that violent entertainment certainly conforms to the pattern of this fallen world.

1 Corinthians 10:23 – Does It Build Up or Tear Down?

1 Corinthians 10:23 provides a principle that can help guide entertainment choices: does this activity profit me and build me up spiritually? Or does it have the potential to tear down my faith?

While artistic horror films may have merits, the core essence of most horror entertainment is to evoke fear and disturbing imagery. It’s wise to prayerfully consider if immersing oneself in frightening entertainment is profitable and edifying on the whole.

Additionally, horror films have potential to stir up mental and emotional turmoil that can adversely impact spiritual life through restless dreams, oppressive thoughts, desensitization, etc.

Potential Effects of Horror Movies

Fear, Anxiety, and Nightmares

Watching horror movies can lead to increased feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress in both children and adults (University of Chicago, 2022). This is because horror films are designed to elicit strong emotional reactions through disturbing imagery, jump scares, and psychological tension.

Prolonged exposure to frightening content has been linked to sleep disturbances like insomnia and nightmares, especially in younger viewers whose brains are still developing (Chapman University, 2017).

One study found that adolescents who watched scary movies frequently were more likely to experience nightmares and anxiety dreams compared to those who rarely watched such films (University of Pennsylvania, 2015).

These effects can persist long after viewing if the images and scenes make a strong impression on the brain.

Desensitization to Violence

Horror films often rely on graphic depictions of violence to shock and scare audiences. While most viewers realize the violence is simulated, research shows that repeated exposure to violent images can desensitize people over time (American Psychological Association, 2020).

This means an individual becomes numb to violence and starts seeing it as normal. Desensitization caused by horror movies could potentially lead to more aggressive thoughts and behaviors, particularly in adolescents whose brains are still wiring moral values and empathy.

One analysis found that youth aged 12-14 who watched a lot of horror and violence showed less physiological arousal and emotional distress when exposed to violent imagery compared to those who watched less (Ohio State University, 2018).

Limiting exposure to disturbing content can help maintain sensitivity to the true costs of violence.

Exposure to the Demonic and Occult

Many horror films feature overt references to demonic possession, Satanism, witchcraft, and paranormal activity. While often exaggerated for entertainment value, these themes can still influence viewers’ beliefs and attitudes.

Studies show that exposure to occult themes in media correlates with greater interest in the occult among adolescents (University of Arkansas, 2022). Films presenting the occult as glamorous or harmless downplay its spiritual dangers.

On the other hand, films portraying demonic themes as real could lead some Christians to develop an unhealthy fear or fascination with spiritual evil. Discernment is needed to evaluate these complex references through a biblical lens.

Occult-themed horror movies could also potentially open doors to unwanted spiritual influences for spiritually sensitive viewers.

Guidance for Christians Who Enjoy Horror Movies

Set Standards on Content

Christians who enjoy horror movies should be wise about the content they choose to watch. Setting standards around violence, language, sexual content, and the supernatural can help mitigate potential spiritual impact (Focus on the Family).

For example, gory violence and graphic sexuality often go hand-in-hand with the horror genre. Seeking out films with less extreme content is advisable.

Likewise, Christians should consider the supernatural elements and worldviews present in horror films. Movies presenting the occult as harmless or glamorizing demonic activity can negatively influence beliefs. Discernment is needed (GotQuestions.org).

Establishing personal guidelines around these areas can help followers of Jesus make wise entertainment choices.

Limit Frequency

Moderation is key for Christians viewing horror films. Just as with other activities, excessive immersion can be unhealthy. Setting limits on how many frightening movies are watched prevents potential desensitization and obsession.

Spacing out horror movie viewing allows time for reflection and resets. It also reduces chances of nightmares or lingering fear. Christians aiming to renew their minds (Romans 12:2) should be intentional about what they mentally digest, including horror content for entertainment.

Focus on Christ Afterward

To counteract any lasting spiritual impact, Christians can purposefully focus on Jesus Christ and truth after watching a scary movie. Consciously praying, reading encouraging Scripture, or listening to uplifting worship music realigns minds and hearts with godly peace.

Philippians 4:8 offers excellent post-viewing advice: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” After horror movie viewing, meditating on these positive traits crowds out lingering fear, anxiety, or disturbance.

Horror With Redeeming Value

While frightening, certain horror films can have merit beyond just scares. Some touch on meaningful themes or display admirable virtues amidst the terror.

Promotes Justice

Some horror films highlight injustices in thought-provoking ways. For example, Jordan Peele’s acclaimed 2017 film Get Out uses horror tropes to spotlight racial injustices and “promote the cause of social justice,” as noted by Christianity Today.

Explores Human Condition

Quality horror frequently grapples with profound aspects of the human condition like morality, death, and evil. As The New York Times stated, “The attraction has to do with what it means to be human.” Thoughtful horror makes audiences examine their deepest fears and beliefs.

Displays Heroic Virtues

While displaying shocking evil, certain acclaimed horror films also highlight heroic goodness. For instance, in The Exorcist, two priests confront a demonic presence with courage, sacrifice, and faith. Such virtue amidst vice can inspire viewers toward selflessness and spiritual growth.


Horror films can have many negative effects, so Christians should be discerning about what they watch. Moderation is key. While the Bible does not forbid all horror media, believers are called to purity and wisdom.

Rather than consuming entertainment mindlessly, Christians can thoughtfully establish boundaries. By being cautious yet balanced, we can still appreciate horror art while honoring God in all we do.

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