I watched Stephen King’ “Storm of the Century” today on ENCORE. Like most of King’s work, it is an excellent, albeit eerily accurate insight to the human psyche. It made me wonder about King’s level of Christianity. While I would never see him as an evangelist, and don’t perceive him as competition to Joel Osteen, many of King’s works have brought his audience crawling back to the foot of the Cross.
Of course, you can’t write about horror if you don’t believe in its opposing force. GOOD is not exactly an equal and opposite force of evil. Defying Newton’s Third Law, Good is obviously opposite, yet definitely stronger than evil. The value of most horror stories is the redemption when good triumphs over evil at the end of most of them. Even though this is not the case in “Storm of the Century,” King uses the tale to depict exactly how the devil works in our lives.
[If you haven’t seen the movie, here is the briefest synopsis: A contemporary setting in the fictitious town of Little Tall Island, off the coast of Maine. As the citizens huddle to survive the blizzard of the century, a dark stranger emerges, initially as a murder suspect. But, with his presence, the sins of the citizens are revealed and magnified. Therein is a Stephen King horror story.]
Andre Linoge, the stranger who seems to bring the dark side to town is not an ugly man. On the contrary, Linoge (played by Colm Feore) appears throughout most of the movie as a handsome man with chiseled features and piercing eyes. Hint – that is what the devil does. He knows we humans are repulsed by ugliness. He learned long ago we are not attracted to anything about that nasty figure with the horns, tail, and pitchfork. He therefore manifests himself in beautiful, fun, exciting forms – as people, concepts, habits, or activities that are exceedingly appealing to humans – that seem good at the time. So, King gives us a (mostly) handsome Satan in Linoge. More importantly, he illustrates with complete understanding, the way the devil works in our lives. From the moment Linoge meets the townspeople, he systematically singles out each one – by name and specific sins. He reveals their darkest secrets to their fellow citizens, and causes each to re-live and wallow in their past mistakes.
And THAT is exactly what the devil does. Regardless of your resolve to live a good life, Satan will throw your past miss-steps in your face. Daily, he will try to remind you of your weaknesses and past sins. He wants you to forget that Christ died for those sins – and once you have repented, you are a NEW PERSON by the Grace of God. Satan’s best – his only weapon is our past transgressions and self doubt. He is keenly aware that if we truly believe Christ died for our sins, and the PAST IS IN THE PAST, he has lost us to the LIGHT.
Linoge as the Satan in “Storm of the Century” is transfixing and terrifying as he throws up to each of the townspeople, the darkest secrets of their past – and he gets the results he wants. They cease to trust themselves or each other, and instead of seeing the good in their neighbors and their own families, they see only evil all around them.
“Storm of the Century” does not have the happy ending we would hope for – not because evil was stronger than good – because the townspeople – all but Constable Mike Anderson (Tim Daly) made a conscious choice to give the devil what he wanted – just to make him go away. We all know he never really goes away. Therefore, giving in to any devil or temptation to make it “go away” is just a temporary fix. King illustrates this perfectly with the ending of the movie. He may not be an evangelist. But, Stephen King clearly knows his good and evil dynamics. And his magnificent body of work typically reminds us that we have to ignore Satan’s threats and promises forever. GRACE and PEACE come by one way – the Way of the Cross – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Grace of God.
… By-the-way, after seeing this movie, you probably won’t ever want to play “I’m a little teapot” ever again.