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“One can still find movies and TV comedies and dramas that entertain and uplift and accurately depict the consequences of right and wrong… Our biggest challenge is to choose wisely what we listen to and what we watch.” – M. Russell Ballard, Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Welcome to The Streaming Saint, a new weekly column helping you find uplifting films with Gospel-compatible messages that you can enjoy from home with your family. For daily recommendations and entertainment, “like” me on Facebook. This week we take a look at worthwhile Halloween offerings you can access through your streaming services.
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There are the only two scary movies that I can think of that are both emotionally uplifting and spiritually edifying: Brigham City and Signs. The former, from God’s Army and States of Grace writer-director Richard Dutcher, is now available on Living Scriptures streaming. A Utah sheriff (who is also a Latter-day Saint bishop) deals with the encroachment of evil when a serial killer stalks his small town. A riveting exploration of faith vs. doubt, along with the healing power of community. Rated PG-13. Not graphic or gory, but nail-bitingly tense with some mature themes. For teens and up.
The lush cinematic version of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s stage musical is led by Emmy Rossum’s luminescent performance as Christine Dae, the opera singer who is tutored, then stalked, by an obsessive masked man. Gerard Butler is just okay as a vocalist, but his performance as the Phantom smolders with intensity. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality (no love scenes, but Christine is fairly entranced by the Opera Ghost and there are some low-cut dresses) and violence as victims are hung by rope. For teens and up. Ultimately a tale of choosing love over lust and compassion over fear.
Real life husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt star as a married couple protecting their children from sound-sensitive monsters in this blockbuster thriller, expertly directed by Krasinski. A marvelous tale of the love between husband and wife, parents and children, masquerading as a scary movie. Rated PG-13 for intensity and mild blood. No language. Good for teens and up.
Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated tale of a Victorian-era groom who runs from the altar, only to be swept away by a ghoulish apparition, is great fun for all ages. While not as popular or well-known as The Nightmare Before Christmas, fans of that film will definitely get a kick out of this one, whose central theme is taking accountability for one’s choices and facing one’s fears head on. The music is excellent, with “Remains of the Day” serving as a Halloween staple in our home. Rated PG.
YOUTUBE MOVIES (FREE)
Igor, the classic monster-movie henchman, seeks to be a mad scientist himself in this funny animated romp, suitable for all ages, available to watch for free on YouTube. Rated PG.
VUDU MOVIES (FREE)
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a father desperately trying to save his infected daughter (Abigail Breslin) from turning into a zombie in Maggie, a surprisingly poignant drama with some thriller overtones. Slower-paced, emotional, and thoughtful, this is an alternative for those looking for some thematic meat to chew on, if you’ll pardon the pun. Rated PG-13 for a bit of blood and mild language, good for teens and up as long as they’re on board with the type of movie they’re getting.
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FROM THE STREAMING SAINT
During my time with BYU’s Divine Comedy, we learned to dance the Thriller for a skit about zombies and edited horror movies. Enjoy this little taste!
GET MORE PICKS TO STREAM WITH YOUR FAMILY
For a thorough exploration of what apostles and prophets have said about watching uplifting media, along with hundreds of reviews and Gospel discussion guides, pick up a copy of my book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families!
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist, actor, author, and film critic. He is known for starring in The KJZZ Movie Show and the Utah action-comedy CTU: Provo, performing with BYU’s Divine Comedy, and as the author of 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families.