Valley of the Shadow: The Spiritual Value of Horror (2021)

Horror is a film genre that has been seen as having no social value at best and as dangerous and Satanic at worst by the Christian community. In this documentary, director Tyler Smith (who also co-wrote the film with Reed Lackey) and host Bill Oberst, Jr. explore the world of scary movies, finding the psychological, emotional and spiritual complexities within the genre.

I was expecting something very different than what this film delivers, as it is quite even-handed and really explores nearly every facet and subgenre of horror. We had the opportunity to speak with Oberst Jr. last year — check out the interview — and found him to be both kind, open minded and incredibly knowledgeable about horror. There’s an insightful moment at the beginning of this where he discusses the divide between a career of playing monsters and a life of faith.

Smith also made Reel Redemption, another open-minded faith effort that even defended the slasher genre against the position of Siskel and Ebert.

While concentrating mostly on American film, there’s plenty of time discussing the faith and lessons one can learn from films that outright challenge belief, including Silver Bullet and The Exorcist. Unlike many of the talking head documentaries on horror, this focuses on The script at hand and Oberst Jr. is perfect at keeping the pace and energy right where it demands to be. This isn’t someone breaking in to tell you that this sequel is their favorite one in the series. This is a film with something critical to say about how horror can be a part of a faithful life and not a secret sin.

Depending on your own personal spiritual life or lack thereof, I recommend this film. Watch it with an open mind and — at worst — you can appreciate the breadth of movies that it covers.

Valley of the Shadow: The Spiritual Value of Horror is currently available on the ReDiscover Television streaming platform and on demand on Vimeo.

One thought on “Valley of the Shadow: The Spiritual Value of Horror (2021)

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, October 6, 2021 – Chuck The Writer

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