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31 October 2014

First ‘holy horror’ film set to cause controversy

First ‘holy horror’ film set to cause controversy

A new horror film is set to bring a controversial Christian message to secular film-goers.

Produced by Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures, The Remaining is a faith-based horror. Derived from a specific interpretation of the book of Revelation, the film releases in UK cinemas on 7 November.

The plot revolves around a group of five friends busy celebrating a wedding when an apocalyptic event - known as 'the Rapture' - leaves them scrambling for safety. The faithful have been whisked to heaven while all non-believers are left on Earth. With boulder-sized hail falling, locusts swarming and fallen angels attacking, the forsaken five are forced to make up their own minds about faith in a terrifying, post-Rapture world.

Welcoming The Remaining, Ray Horowitz, director of the UK Christian Film Festival, sees it as part of a genre of end-times films like Thief in the Night in the 1970s and the Left Behind series in the 1990s. 

Horowitz said: "Let's remember that at one time it was considered blasphemous to even visit the cinema, whatever it was showing. 

"We've come a long way in understanding and interpreting contemporary film. Anything using the book of Revelation as its source of inspiration will always be open to heated discussion but we shouldn't ignore the masses of people who love horror films and who have yet to hear the Christian message interpreted within their genre. 

"The Remaining is powerful and disturbing - much like the Gospel itself!"

Not all those with Christian beliefs agree with him. 

Writer Clive Price said: "As a young person in search of spiritual peace, this theological view of the end times warned me that I might be left behind in some bizarre rapture. I was already fed up with being left behind in the changing rooms at school football matches, never mind in a major end times event. It wasn't until years later I found deliverance from this dark belief. 

"How uplifting it was to hear that the kindness of God leads to repentance, not some vague fear that we might be overlooked as the world disintegrates".

The Remaining therefore poses a vexed question for the church: how far to engage with popular culture? The film pulls no punches in presenting a hard-hitting message about God's judgement and yet it proved popular at this year's Frightfest film festival.

"The challenges raised by this film - and indeed any film in the horror genre - are familiar to Christians who seek to reach all people in all places," said Nick Pollard, co-founder of the educational charity Damaris which provides official resources around new feature films. 

"What is the limit to where we should go and what we should accept? Jesus rejected the criticism he faced for eating with tax collectors and sinners. Should Christians follow that example with horror films?'

The Remaining releases in UK cinemas on 7 November.