Wes Craven on Film, Fear and Faith

The horror film director says people watch scary movies "not to get scared, but to deal with terrors they already feel."

BY: Ted Parks


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The director remembered sneaking off to another town to see "To Kill a Mockingbird" because the college prohibited students from going to movies.

Besides bucking the rules, Craven recalled his internal struggles as he began questioning the narrow approach to Christianity he had grown up with and that Wheaton seemed to enforce.

"I was going through a very slow, but definite ...questioning of my own inner realities," he said.

The soul searching took different forms. Sometimes Craven told himself, "I am bad because I am rejecting the Holy Spirit of Christ." But at other times, the doubts served more positively as signs that he needed to rethink reality.

Asked if he considered himself a religious person now, Craven responded, "I don't do anything in an organized way." Rather, he has come to see filmmaking as the most significant way to express his beliefs and longings.

Craven said he found something in the whole process of crafting a film, from the business nuts-and-bolts to "wrestling with my inner demons and inner glimpses of light," that was more satisfying and beneficial than anything he could have done in traditional venues of religious service.

"I think that's ... the best approach to (the) spiritual ... I'm capable of," he said.

And the filmmaker draws on religious and philosophical categories to analyze the horror-film genre of which he is an acknowledged master.

"Horror films somehow come and confront" the dark, incomprehensible side of humanity, Craven said. "They're very much like an inoculation against a deeper and darker and more frightening reality."

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