Ho-Ho Horror

Are Christmas horror movies blasphemous?

Harrison Jones, Staff Writer

Christmas — a time of cheer. It’s a time of giving, and Hollywood has been giving us a much darker twist on the season. Horror movies have latched onto the Christmas holiday. 

It’s nothing new. The horror genre has been doing this for a while now; the movie Silent Night, Bloody Night came out in 1972. Movies and series like Krampus, Black Christmas, Better Watch Out, and NOS4A2 are simply editions to the already carved out section of the horror genre. If you were to look up Christmas Horror, you can find several lists of movies fitting into this section of the “Horror and Slasher” movies. 

While the quality of these films is up to debate, the bigger question is if these movies are offensive to Christians, which has been asked by religious groups in the past. I say no. 

Christmas horror isn’t coming from the story of the birth of Jesus in the Christian faith. It’s coming from the atmosphere typically associated with the season and the traditions which have grown over the years. It’s about the secular side of the holiday: gift-giving, building gingerbread houses, putting up the tree and lights — the idea the media and society have created culturally.

The idea of Christmas horror seems to stem more from the cultural idea of the holiday rather than the religious one. The story of the birth of Christ isn’t a tale brought up in these movies. The movie Krampus centers around a legend from central Europe thought to be grounded in Pagan rituals for the Winter Solstice. The series NOS4A2 comes from the idea of vampires. Christmas becomes more of a way to create an eerie atmosphere because it’s something you would normally trust.

Holidays sell — they always have — it’s why you see so many Christmas movies, horror or not, coming out around this time of year. It’s people trying to capitalize off the season. Like in the Netflix series The Movies that Made Us, John Carpenter, the director of Halloween and one of the most renowned horror movies of all time, first intended to call the movie The Babysitter Murders. However, producer Irwin Yablans suggested naming it after a holiday would make the story more significant and memorable. So the title was changed to Halloween, because having a holiday in the title and associated with the movie was believed to be good marketing and that it would sell tickets better. 

The horror genre has always been about twisting your mind, taking something innocent, something you would never suspect to hurt you, and making it frighten you. Horror is all about lulling the audience into a false sense of security, so just when you feel safe, you’re tripped up again. It’s why you see so many movies of the genre featuring creepy children. Children are seen as something pure and wholesome, something that wouldn’t hurt you in real life much like Christmas. By taking Christmas, something not typically seen as frightening, and making you scared of it, it creates a more uneasy atmosphere for the film. 

The Christmas horror section isn’t going away anytime soon. The taboo desire to take something seen as pure and make it twisted lingers in the human mind.

Christmas horror isn’t about blaspheming Christianity, it’s about some people wanting to see the season so merry and bright and others making it about misery and fright.