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The False Prophet on Cinema: Musings on The Night of the Hunter

*For the late Mr. Richard Coxsey*

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. — Matthew 7:15–17

Everyone loves the story of good vs. evil. Everyone. Good triumphs. Evil is overpowered. Even if evil triumphs, we carry the vague, foolish hope good will overcome evil so us good folk will bask in the true forthcoming victory. It’s simple, easy, and gratifying. From what I know about the mindset of the 1950s, America, heck the world, wasn’t awfully concerned about the logistics or mechanization of evil or their plethora of manifestations. Rarely, however, does a narrative invite the audience to, how should I put it, experience a monster’s relentless terror through the perspective of children. Certainly, there are child protagonists unwillingly trapped in cliched horror scenarios (demonic possession, stalked by a serial killer entity, paranormal assaults, etc.), but the focus of children resisting the charm and spell of a homicidal maniac, refusing to comply to his wishes, and the sheer horror of this maniac’s exploitation of the townsfolk’s spirituality, that’s not so common.

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A good true cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. — Matthew 7:18–20

Born and raised in CA. Film, literature, music, poetry, mostly gay/queer/GSM topics. Stick around if I haven’t bored you yet.

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