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USA Today

Thursday, September 6, 2018

 Associate Professor of Theology Timothy Milinovich was used as a resource for a USA Today article on the connection between religion and the horror genre, in light of the new movie, The Nun. The movie opens in theaters across the country on Friday, September 7.

The article discusses the reasons why religious horror films, including the gold standard of the genre, The Exorcist, are particularly unsettling for viewers.

"There is a definite thematic overlap between horror fiction and religion," Milinovich explains in the article. "Both seek to address what is outside of us that is a threat, but also what is within us—rage, anger and jealousy and all those other things that are also corruptions, even the concept of guilt and the need for redemption."

The Nun is an origin story for the demonic nun Valak in The Conjuring movies. She is introduced as a foil to test the faith of the paranormal expert protagonist in The Conjuring 2. The movie follows in the footsteps of films like the groundbreaking The Exorcist.

Milinovich's interest in the horror genre was sparked while he was pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biblical studies at Saint Vincent College, which many students claimed was haunted.  Of course, Dominican University also is rife with rumors and stories of haunted happenings. Milinovich has been teaching a class at Dominican on religion and the horror genre for several years. His class "Theology and Horror Fiction," which is offered this fall, explores how religious themes appear in horror fiction and how the two are interrelated. Both help humans create narratives to deal with death, anxiety and the unknown--and both incorporate aspects of ritual. The course includes examinations of the Books of Genesis and Revelation before studying more modern books, including Frankenstein, The Monstrumologist, and Hell House, among others.

"Successful horror stories are set in places that are supposed to be comfortable," he explained. "When things cross boundaries, we tend to think of them as an invasion and this makes us uncomfortable. For example, houses are places that are supposed to be safe--unless they're haunted, of course. This anxiety is exascerbated when death, corruption and evil occur in sacred spaces, such as churches."

You can read the entire article in USA Today here.