UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Eschato-horror films Hauka, David Phillip


This thesis studies American studio feature films whose narratives are inspired by the Bible’s Book of Revelation. I identify these films as belonging to a subgenre of supernatural horror I have named ‘eschato-horror’. American eschato-horror films reflect Christian eschatology and its violent visions of cosmic war between divine and satanic forces. While supernatural horror films exploit our fear of death and evil, American Eschato-horror ups the cultural stakes through its representations of pseudo Catholic and other Christian ritual, scripture, and iconography in its mission to frighten the viewer. Other national cinemas produce their own eschatology inspired films, but the American rendering of the genre as produced and exported by major Hollywood studios and distribution companies dominates screens world-wide. In order to better understand the cultural importance and usefulness of American Eschato-horror for film fans as well as self-identifying American Christian audiences, this thesis will study three examples of the genre, Constantine (Lawrence, 2005), Knowing (Proyas, 2009) and Legion (Stewart, 2010), all of which were produced by or for major American motion picture companies and distributors. Demonstrating that the version of eschatology found in their narratives reflects an identifiable American Protestant Christianity will be accomplished though an historical overview tracing Christianity from its roots as the marginalized, millennially-inspired “Jesus Cult,” to its evolution into one of the most powerful forces shaping American history and culture. The narrative elements associated with eschato-horror (monstrous women, self-sacrificing heroes, faithless priests, etc.), will be seen to be as much an expression of our collective fear of death and evil – forces James Carse associates with religion – as the Biblical illiteracy and confused understanding of Christianity identified by Stephen Prothero and Richard T. Hughes so central to contemporary America’s view of itself as being “a Christian Nation.” The reception of American Eschato-horror films as seen on film fan and Christian websites, especially in light of discourse similarities identified in film fan cults and religious cults, will be considered through the work of Matt Hills, Ernest Mathijs, Jamie Sexton and Jeff Hunter.

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