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Satan in Horror: The Most Intriguing Devil

Recently, all I’ve wanted to write about is Satan…

And with me, when I write about something I tend to immerse myself in it and do all the research and reading I can.

I feel like Satan gets spoken about in many horror films, or maybe spoken around. He becomes almost a central character without being actively present or on screen. The devil is a presence that haunts a lot of films and narratives without contributing anything more than that. Like in some of my favorite films such as Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen. Things are done for him or against him, but we never see him asking for or denying any of it. He’s there in any film about Demonic possession, of which there are many. Any time there are demons or evil monsters on screen and the protagonists and victims ask them for their motivations, they’ll usually cite their service to Satan.

It leaves so much to the imagination but also relies heavily on what we already know and believe about the Devil. I find this very interesting.

I know it’s a simple parallel. With good there is evil, with service to God, there is also service to Satan.

But I long for Satan as a fuller character, a more complicated character. I can feel that complicated Satan out in the shadows as some unarticulated idea in a lot of these films. Satan must give something to these Demons that makes him worth following. When the Devil wants your soul, he offers you something for it. He wants the soul to destroy the goodness of it, yes, but he also wants to give you something…

The easy answer is that everything Satan does, he does for evil’s sake alone. To bring Darkness and corruption to the world to spite God…just because. I don’t doubt the endgame, but I think there’s a whole lot more to the story than just that.

I think the trouble with examining the Devil as a literary character is maintaining enough distance to keep some mystery and aura of horror and evil, but also reveal more of that complicated nature, more of that gray area where what is good and what is evil gets a little mixed together so you’re not sure what is what anymore. It’s an incredibly thin line to tread. If you stray too far in one direction you make Satan a sympathetic character and in a sense take some of the traditional power of that character away. If the devil doesn’t scare us anymore he has no sway over us. But if you don’t get close enough to reveal anything new about the character, then whats the point?

These ideas are some of the things I’ve been exploring in the novel I’m working on.

So I hope you’re all down with Satan because I’ll probably continue to be obsessed until I finish this book.

Then I’ll be able to start obsessing over Monsters or Ghosts or something fun like that.

What is your favorite example of Satan in Horror?

I still cannot get the voice at the end of The Witch out of my head…

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

Published inHorror

4 Comments

  1. Great article. One of my personal favorite films that involve the Devil (and he even appears at the end) is The Devil Rides Out from 1968. It was made by Hammer Studios and stars Christopher Lee. I highly recommend it. Looking forward to your novel.

    • Mae Mae

      I’ve never seen that film so I’ll definitely have to check it out! And thank you. While writing is fun, I’m definitely ready to get this one done.

  2. Helen Demler Helen Demler

    Thought provoking article! You’ve got my mind running some some theories and ideas. The 1987 film Prince of Darkness stands out to me as an interesting take on Satan. Really great concept that I’ve always hope someone would explore more. It’s a real gem with the acting and late 80’s special effects. Worth a watch on a rainy day or a late night with a bottle of wine and popcorn. Looking forward to more from you Mae! XO

    • Mae Mae

      YES! I forgot about The Prince of Darkness. I only saw it once, years ago. That is an especially interesting version of Satan. I liked how instead of priests or other religious folks, our protagonists were a group of scientists and Satan became a part of the scientific process and the discovery of knowledge. Which seems unique but also perfect because Satan has been a figure that has offered knowledge and “Truth” since the garden of Eden. Thanks for bringing up such a great point!

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