The Reaping is a 2007 American psychological horror thriller film, starring Hilary Swank. The film was directed by Stephen Hopkins. A former Christian missionary, who specializes in debunking religious phenomena, investigates a small town which seems to be suffering from the 10 biblical plagues. This film uses part of the story of the Exodus (Both a Jewish and Christian story) to weave a story about a loss of faith in a horror genre.
Harry Potter is a British-American film series based on the Harry Potter novels by author J. K. Rowling. The series is distributed by Warner Bros. and consists of eight fantasy films, beginning with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While a story based in a fantastical world of witches, wizards and magical creatures (which some people consider to be anti-religious), there are many religious and theological themes that can be discussed. One of the biggest one deals with a prophecy that tells of a birth of a child that will be the saviour of his people.
The Lord of the Rings is a film series consisting of three high fantasy adventure films directed by Peter Jackson. They are based on the novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films follow the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he and the Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. This movie interests me because it deals with a group of good meaning characters coming together to fight the ultimate force of evil. It deals with several issues of sacrifice, betrayal and destiny.
The Truman Show is a 1998 American satirical science fiction film directed by Peter Weir, produced by Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman, and Adam Schroeder, and written by Niccol. The film stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, adopted and raised by a corporation inside a simulated television show revolving around his life. This movie connects to the idea of predestination vs free will, which is a large concept in theology.
Dogma is a 1999 American fantasy comedy film, written and directed by Kevin Smith. The story revolves around two fallen angels who plan to employ an alleged loophole in Catholic dogma to return to Heaven after being cast out by God. This one caught my attention because it is a comedy based on the Catholic faith's belief in Heaven. Set in present day, the use of angels and other characters should provide a great source of how religion is used in popular culture.
Constantine is a 2005 American occult detective film directed by Francis Lawrence, in his directorial debut, and starring Keanu Reeves as John Constantine. The film portrays John Constantine as a cynic with the ability to perceive and communicate with half-angels and half-demons in their true form. He seeks salvation from eternal damnation in Hell for a suicide attempt in his youth. This movie is based on a comic book and it deals with a character who has committed suicide. This movie reflects the ideas of the Catholic faith.
The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic neo-Western action film directed by the Hughes brothers and written by Gary Whitta. The story revolves around Eli, a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world, who is told by a voice to deliver his copy of a mysterious book to a safe location on the West Coast of the United States. The title itself is an interesting play on religious themes considering the main character, Eli, is carrying a book and one of the Old Testament's books is the book of Elijah.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 2005 British-American high fantasy film directed by Andrew Adamson and based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first published by C.S. Lewis. Four British children are evacuated during the Blitz to the countryside, where they find a wardrobe that leads to the fantasy world of Narnia. There they ally with the Lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) against the forces of Jadis, the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). With the works of this author, Lewis, being well known as an example of Christian allegory, it should be very easy to identify the religious themes that exist in the movie.
Seven (stylized as SE7EN) is a 1995 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. It tells the story of David Mills (Pitt), a detective who partners with the retiring William Somerset (Freeman) to track down a serial killer (Spacey) who uses the seven deadly sins as a motif in his murders. I think that this film would be interesting to explore because of the deadly sins connection. This film uses religious ideas in connection with evil and violence; something that most people would not consider appropriate but seen in several types of horror films.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy family film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The film tells the story of Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) as he receives a Golden Ticket and visits Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with four other children from around the world. Not unlike the movie Se7en that uses the deadly sins, this movie also uses the same sins but in a fun whimsical way that teaches kids what can happen if you practice these vices.