Have you thought about death lately?
Horror fans are intimate with death. Whether sudden or prolonged, subtle or explicit, and depicted in hyper-realistic or preternatural artistry, death is often the modus operandi of modern horror films. Often taken to absurd or nauseating extremes, it is parodied, glorified, exemplified, and gorified.
And sometimes theology is tossed into the terminal mix. Not too much, mind you, as that would hold down the body count as characters go through annoying self-searching dialogs, pausing the spouting blood action mid-vein long enough for some superficial, really-need-more-time-for-this discussions on the meaning of life and death, heaven and hell. You know, that sort of stuff.
"Jason. Put down that head! I've got to think about all this!" or "Freddy, cut that out — no, not like that! — I mean you need to wait until I discuss the raison d'etre of your existence juxtaposed with my hacked-up dead friends — oh, and Tommy, too, who I never liked that much anyway." Such character introspection in a horror film tends to muck up the story, and require mental gymnastics today's audiences may not be in shape for. It is so much easier to show it — death, I mean. No lengthy expositives, just nifty death throes and screams, and body parts scattered aplenty. Not much thought required to understand that.
So when a horror film brings death into close proximity with religious themes such as heaven and hell, it needs to balance its story between just enough horror action and just enough theological posturing to move it along in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner within a logical - story context - framework.
Left in Darkness, recently released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, while a definite improvement over Anchor Bay's uneven Tooth Fairy, still fails to live up to the potential hinted at in its interesting premise: a young woman dies and must figure out how to get into heaven before her sanctuary is overrun by soul-eating nasties.
I suppose it's the idea of having to figure out how to get to heaven that turns me off. Dying is hard enough; but to be forced to play 'heaven, heaven, where the hell is heaven' when soul-eating demons roam around waiting to suck out your soul like some spiritual marrow — to me that's plain cruel and unjust.
Then you've got the Devil, or some other evil prowling around pretending to be good and all that, but he's just trying to sucker you into making the wrong decision. Where's God in all this? Why is it in just about every horror film where you have demons and devils galore, God is nowhere to be found? Or God is giving you sparse and cryptic clues to help in your battle with evil — hey, could use some angels with sharp glowing swords here, please! Or better clues, please! Hello, is anybody there?