“Ask a Priest: Is It Silly to Shun Movies and Shows About Demonic Possession?”

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Q: I usually enjoy a good horror movie or TV show. I watch “Supernatural” and am rarely bothered by the content and see it as being kind of silly. However, over the last years I have had a strong aversion to movies and TV shows that are about possessions. I used to watch them all the time and didn’t think much about them (my dad had us watch “The Exorcist” when I was in second or third grade), but I am no longer comfortable with them. Part of it is that I see them as something that could really happen and not something that should be taken lightly and watched for entertainment. This means that I have passed on TV, such as the season of “American Horror Story” with the nuns and demonic possession, movies of that nature, and books. Am I being silly? Or is my instinct about these type of things right? -S.N.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I don’t think you are being overly sensitive. The media can profoundly influence our thinking. A diet of movies and shows about demons and possession can lead someone to think they are lighthearted topics (which they aren’t) or, worse, draw a person into more macabre degrees of “entertainment” (meaning nastier movies and shows or even occult-related activities).

There is also the generational impact. Watching “The Exorcist” at a young age might have primed you for a later stream of related shows and movies. This feeds a Hollywood cycle that, in turn, produces more of this stuff. The plethora of demonic-themed shows and films hints at our culture’s unhealthy interest in the occult — a troubling sign.

But let’s get back to you and your husband. This might be a good moment to discuss what kind of entertainment will pass muster in your home. What kind of culture do you want to have within your family? A good place to start is with the things that are read and watched and listened to. Use of the media should take into account St. Paul’s advice, “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I hope this helps. God bless.

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One Comment
  1. I think often of what a priest said about whatever we see can be remembered later during prayer, or mass etc. Exorcism movies are too hard for me to watch because my imagination is so strong, but if these movies can give a helpful view for our spiritual life, then it should be okay I think. It seems harmful if we are highly interested or get a thrill out of seeing gross things. It should be done in a prudent manner. Similar to what Fr. is saying.

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