5 religious horror movies to watch for Easter

Religious horror is not just that. As Dario Argento said when he directed the creepy "Inferno," he admitted that he could never look at symbols of faith the same way. This sub-genre tries to move all the elements associated with mysticism, faith and spirituality to darker places. From blasphemy, demons, dark rituals, sacred places tainted by evil. Themed films that directly explore the mundane have become favorites of lovers of the macabre.

Especially when those themes become more extreme, violent, and brutal. From "The Exorcist," which posed ethical and moral dilemmas between prayers and green vomit, to ""The Prophecy," which analyzed the Bible as a horror script. The truth is that the religious plane taken into the codes of genre cinema is often an experiment that turns out well. Or at least it becomes more sinister as it delves into the realm of the supernatural, this time connected to the divine.

With Easter approaching, it's a good time to revisit some of the recent movies that examine the dogmas of faith as part of the horrifying. From nuns revealing unspeakable secrets to terrifying children who become monsters by misinterpreting the sacred. The selection includes several rare films, perfect for exploring a subject that never ceases to amaze with its diversity and twisted view of the religious world.

Sister Death

In the movie "Veronica" (2017), director Paco Plaza explored the theme of possession through a well-known real-life case. This allowed him to mix collective horror and paranoia in a new scenario. But at the center of the story of a teenager abused and eventually killed by occult forces was a mysterious figure. Sister Narcisa (Consuelo Trujillo) was a counterbalance to the mystery embedded in the script. The blind nun, who smoked in secret and seemed to know the answers to questions about the supernatural, became an intriguing and confusing element of the plot.

In Sister Death (2023), a paranormal event is at the center of what happened to Narcisa (this time played by Aria Bedmar and Almudena Amor) before she arrived in Madrid. In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, the then novice must confront an ancient and twisted evil.

Moreover, it is linked to the idea of motherhood and the search for the purpose of goodness. Told through flashbacks, images mimicking the macabre NODOS videos, and an ultimately gothic mise-en-scene, the movie is a terrifying vision of faith. And at the same time, of the excesses of those who profess it and the agony of fanaticism.

The Unholy

James Herbert's screen adaptation of the book of the same name attempts to answer the puzzling question of what constitutes a miracle. But instead of a faith-based problem, it delves into the ambiguity of an unusual phenomenon. Director and screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos is concerned with a key point: what makes an amazing event necessarily good?

Gerard (Jeffrey Dean Morgan from "The Walking Dead") is the journalist who will try to answer that question. He has nothing to lose and risks his reputation to get to the bottom of the unexplained event. Alice (Cricket Brown), the pastor's devout niece, claims she can see a divine phenomenon. Which also instructs him to preach the gospel and work on what appears to be sacred.

But things get even murkier when Gerard discovers that behind the miraculous healings and songs of faith lies a hidden danger. It has the power to strike terror into Alice and all the believers around her. It's a premise that works, as the movie rigorously questions the possibility that religion is an emotional event that gives rise to something more dangerous.

The Unborn

Director and screenwriter David S. Goyer's movie explores the mythology of Judaism from a dark angle. When Casey (Odette Annable) begins to suffer from what appears to be an eye disease, a door to the unexplainable opens before her.

From visions of an unknown child following her everywhere to obsession. Gradually, some unholy force begins to manifest around her, causing her to seek answers and help in places she least imagines. This includes the office of Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman), where she tries to understand the nature of the dybbuk who threatens her and then tries to kill her.

Things become even more chaotic for Casey when she realizes that the phenomenon is part of something more powerful and ancient, connected to her family and the tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust. This leads her on a journey to her roots and the source of the horror that surrounds her. Interesting fact. The Unborn has one of the few scenes of Jewish religious exorcism in recent decades.

The Nun horror

"The Nun" saga

The two spin-off films of "The Conjuring" franchise tell the story of the origin of the demon Valak (Bonnie Aarons) and her struggle with her sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga). But aside from the conventions of the genre and the poor quality of the script, the sub-franchise has some positive aspects. For one thing, it's an exploration of the origins and spread of evil through faith, fear, and the dark spaces of the human mind.

For another, it's an exploration of broad Christian symbolism, which it wisely utilizes at various points in its plot. From the story of the martyrs to the importance of relics. The film analyzes the way we understand the divine and how it interacts with the codes of horror cinema. But beyond that, it's a religiously inspired version of creepy that plays with the idea of profane and the power of faith to achieve a creepy scenario.

Children of the Corn

This adaptation of Stephen King's short story of the same name is a unique take on religious horror cinema, focusing on paganism and bigotry. Director Fritz Kirsch managed to combine both themes in a story that not only explores the writer's original plot, but also takes it into a different space, emphasizing what is associated with the myths and legends of paganism. He also added a few moments of folk-horror, making the movie a rarity for the time.

When Bert (Peter Horton) and his wife Vicki (Linda Hamilton) accidentally enter an abandoned town deep in North America, they have no idea what horror awaits them. About a group of children gripped by an insane morbid devotion to a creature hidden among the crops. Terror awaits in the form of religious chants and, ultimately, death amidst unholy prayers. Scariest plot point.


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