A supernatural thriller that tackles abortion? That’s ‘Wraith’

The phrases “pro-life” and “supernatural thriller” usually don’t mix, but that’s not the case for a new film that explores the issue of abortion in a way that few, if any, films have.

The movie is Wraith, which was released May 8 and is now available on DVD and video on demand. It was written and directed by Michael O. Sajbel, who also directed One Night With the King (2006) and The Ultimate Gift (2006), as well as a documentary for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association about Louis Zamperini.

Sajbel told the Christian News Journal he got the idea for Wraith after watching a scary movie with his teenage daughter and her friends.

“Like a good father, I watched it — and I made it through about five minutes,” he said. “There was all sorts of bad language and inappropriate situations. And I said there’s no way she’s going to watch this movie. So I just said to myself: I’m going to make a movie that’s scary, but it still has a biblical worldview and it’s one that teenagers can watch.”

Wraith (PG-13) tells the story of a family that has lived in an old mansion when a spirit begins communicating with them. Not incidentally, the encounter takes place when the mom – who is expecting – begins considering an abortion. The movie has plenty of scary moments but contains no sexuality or coarse language.

The Christian News Journal recently spoke with Sajbel. Following is the transcript, edited for clarity:

CNJ: Have you always had strong pro-life beliefs or is that something that you developed later in life?

Sajbel: I would say that my pro-life beliefs really seriously developed as an adult. Early on in my own personal life, I know that there were a couple of instances where there were very uncomfortable situations with pregnancies and with friends and people close to me – and I really would do anything to go back and change those situations. A lot of friends share the same belief that I do – that our culture gave us an option that really shouldn’t have been on the table to begin with. That’s really one of the strongest messages in Wraith — that out of our arrogance, we feel that we can control life, when, in fact, God is the author of all life and it’s up to Him whether someone lives or dies, and at what time.

CNJ: There’s often been a debate among Christians about horror movies. The Christian community accepts drama and comedy, but not necessarily horror. Could you give us your thoughts on that?

Sajbel: I have two or three thoughts. The first is that a lot of kids are watching these movies no matter what, whether the parents approve them or not. Secondly, there are certain horror films that are correct in a lot of their orthodoxy; they address good versus evil and in a biblical way. Third, there are a couple of really excellent directors out there who are Christians. They’re believers, and that is part of their worldview. It’s a longstanding debate.

CNJ: Who do you hope watches Wraith?

Sajbel: This is one that families can watch, that parents can improve of. It has a good message that’s life-affirming. There’s no nudity or language. There’s nothing that’s offensive in that sense. There are some scary scenes and shots and noises and bumps in the night, but it’s all reconciled and it’s all part of the part of the story.

— Michael Foust

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than a decade. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com

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