When it comes to horror movies, there’s always something special about the ones that are inspired by religion. The entire concept of religion is based on the idea of supernatural forces waging a war in ways that aren’t immediately noticeable by us mortals, so all horror movies really have to do is make some of those ideas visible and tangible to have a really creepy setting. Besides, every religion has tons and tons of dark demons, fallen angels and devils waiting to do all kinds of mean things to unsuspecting humans.
Let’s take a look at some of the best horror movies that were inspired by religion, just in case you wanted to feel good about your atheism.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Not all religion has to be catholic. In this movie, a police officer finds himself looking for a girl in a pagan community, and he arrives right around the time they have a wicker man festival. And as we all know, at the end of the movie the officer ends up in the wicker man and set on fire. They also had a remake with Nicolas Cage, which is probably more famous than the original.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Imagine wanting to have a child and finding out you got pregnant because your neighbours are part of a Satanic cult and they want to have your unborn child as the vessel of the Devil. Sounds like a hell of a ride, doesn’t it?
The Exorcist (1973)
This is probably the most known religion inspired horror movie since it’s the best one out there. This movie is nothing more than the tale of a priest trying to save a girl from demonic possession and it involves some of the most memorable and graphic scenes ever seen in a horror movie.
The concept of Hell has always been something that many people have interpreted in different ways but boy did this Clive Barker movie not pull any punches in its concept of Hell. A man escapes from Hell and is then hunted by Cenobytes, creatures that rule the very, very sadistic version of Hell and want nothing more than to continue torturing the man that escaped.
The Rite (2011)
Anything that has Anthony Hopkins in it is bound to be good, right? But in this exorcism movie, it’s the priest himself that becomes possessed by a demon and needs to be saved by a less experienced priest. It’s a nice new spin on the tried-and-true exorcism story and Anthony Hopkins is still a joy to watch.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
In this movie, a priest is put on trial for allegedly killing a young girl after having performed an exorcism on her. Throughout the trial we find out what actually happened to the girl and it’s a very well-acted and harrowing story to watch. It is still a horror movie though, so don’t expect any Oscar material.
The Omen (1976)
Someone’s child gets born and death follows all around. It’s not very long until it starts to become apparent that the child is in fact none other than the Antichrist, or the son of the Devil. There’s been a bunch of sequels and remakes of this movie but only the first one is worth watching, sadly.
A group of friends go to Sweden on a summer trip and join a local community in celebrating the mid-summer festival. Very quickly things turn horribly south and they discover that the community is in fact a very lethal pagan cult that wants nothing more but perform some unwanted human sacrifices. It’s also set in broad daylight, which is so atypical for a horror movie.