Out of all the different types of conflict we see portrayed in movies, conflict against the supernatural, otherwise known as Person vs. Supernatural, is often the most captivating to see play out on screen.
In this guide, we’ll dive into what Person vs. Supernatural conflict is as well as provide examples of some of the best portrayals of this type of conflict in cinema!
Questions We’ll Answer About Person vs. Supernatural Conflict In Movies:
- What Is Person Vs. Supernatural Conflict?
- What Are The Best Portrayls Of Person Vs. Supernatural Conflict In Movies?
What Is Person Vs. Supernatural Conflict?
Conflict In Storytelling
Conflict is an essential storytelling tool. It’s a device used in literature and film that introduces the character to some opposition or challenge.
This dramatic structure is essential to developing a storyline, providing a struggle that a character needs to overcome. Without conflict wether it be physical, emotional, mental or supernatural – there is no storyline.
Person Vs. Supernatural Conflict Explained
A person vs. supernatural conflict is a type of storytelling style involving a human character who faces conflict against a supernatural force such as magical creatures—anything that cannot be controlled or explained by natural law.
The most iconic examples of the supernatural are vampires, demons, witches, a god/gods, and ghosts.
One can find this theme in classic literature, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, where the protagonist cannot tell if the raven tormenting him is a supernatural or a product of his imagination. The classic Sophocles story of Oedipus Rex, where protagonist Oedipus faces the curse of a prophecy that caused him to kill his father and marry his mother is also an often pointed to example of Person Vs. Supernatural conflict.
What Are The Best Portrayals Of Person Vs. Supernatural Conflict In Movies?
Below are examples of some of the best portrayls of Person Vs. Supernatural conflict in cinema.
Note: These films were selected for the ten best portrayals of different types of person vs. society conflict – not the 10 best movies overall! To showcase a substantial depth of person vs. societal conflicts, we wanted to demonstrate all the unique ways to see this conflict come together.
Gremlins is a classic (and terrifying) example of person vs. supernatural conflict in film.
Gremlins is a horror-black comedy follows what happens when a boy, Billy Peltzer, receives a pet known as a Mogwai.
We learn there’s much more to the Mogwai than just being harmless pet after Peter ignores the three rules three rules about the Mogwai—exposing the mogwai to light, water, and feeding it after midnight— which results in the toy supernaturally emerging into the menacing creatures known as a gremlin.
Gremlin is a perfect example of Person vs. Supernatural conflict as an everyday, innocent human is faced with supernatural consequences after breaking what seemed to be trivial rules.
To this day, Gremlins remains an iconic film known for it’s terrifying and zany portrayal of how a seemingly innocent gift can lead to a nightmarish encounter with forces outside of our natural world.
There really isn’t a more straightforward and iconic example of Supernatural vs Person conflict in cinema than Ghostbusters!
Actually release the same year as Greamlins, Ghostbusters follows the hilarious story of the three scientists and parapsychologists who set up a ghost-catching business in New York City.
The business involves catching supernatural creatures such as ghosts, poltergeists, and spirits for money and eventually the characters stumble upon a gateway to another dimension that threatens to release even more evil onto New York City.
With ghosts, ghouls and poltergeists appearing in New York City from another dimension, it’s not hard to see who Ghostbusters is one of the best examples of Supernatural vs Person conflict.
The film with the largest cult following on this list (including one of the largest cult classic films of all time) is easily Evil Dead.
The supernatural elements in this Sam Raimi horror classic are demons, unknowingly released by friends who were on vacation at a cabin in the woods.
The film, at least in our opinions, is absolutely terrifying in more of a true horror sense than Ghostbusters or Gremlins – much more scares, gore and violence!
The film follows the struggles to survive and fend off the demons, which makes for a riveting and visceral portrayal of supernatural conflict in film.
With Predator we take a step away from ghosts and evil spirits, and see our first supernatural conflict in the form of a vicious alien species.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays Duth, journeys into the Central American jungle with a team of militants and encounters the Predator, a technologically advanced alien with superhuman strength.
Because we don’t have quite an understand if aliens exist in our real-world just yet, they count as a supernatural conflict we can’t explain when it comes to cinema conflicts.
In the film, the Predator makes quick work of Dutch’s team leaving him solo in a suspenseful fight to the death with the hostile extra-terrestrial that hunts people for sport, taking trophies from its victims’ bodies.
Since the original film in 1987, Predator has gone on to become one of the most succesful franchises in movie history.
Chronicles of Narnia
All of the film’s we’ve listed up to this point have been in the horror or sci-fi genre with the supernatural conflict taking the form of an evil threat.
The Chronicles of Narnia is far from the best movie on this list, but it’s an incredible example of supernatural conflict in a form we don’t always expect to see — it’s also one of the most kid friendly examples, which is why we’ve included it.
Chronicles of Narnia is a departure form this which not only shows the supernatural conflict with supernatural “bad guys” but also supernatural “good guys”.
The Chronicles of Narnia is based off of a fantasy novel and a film for all ages with great examples of the super natural.
In the film, four kids travel to the magical realm of Narnia through a wardrobe where they join forces with magical lion Aslan and work together to defeat the evil White Witch, played by Tilda Swinton.
Not only does the film show supernatural conflict in the form of the White Witch, but we’re also taken into an entirely supernatural world with environments, events and creatures we can’t explain in our normal, natural world.
Independence Day is the highest-grossing film of 1996. This film follows the story of tells the story of a world facing terror. Strange events occur in cities worldwide after an alien mothership arrives on Earth and deploys saucers.
This film, directed by Roland Emmerich and stars Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, and Will Smith, shows humans’ will to live versus sophisticated, high-tech alien technology. Independence Day was shot in Utah, New Mexico, Washington DC and other locations in the US.
Dawn of the Dead
It’s man vs. zombies in the 1978 horror classic Dawn of the Dead. Directed and written by George Romero, this film’s supernatural elements come in the form of zombies.
The story revolves around a traffic reporter, S.W.A.T. team members, and a TV executive who go to a shopping mall to hide from the multiplying zombies. This film is preceded by the Night of the Living Dead, and a total of four sequels. It has appeared on Empire Magazine’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. The movie was filmed in Pennsylvania, specifically Monroeville and Pittsburgh.
War of the Worlds
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, and Dakota Fanning, War of the Worlds is a 2005 sci-fi action film based on a novel by H.G. Wells. The film is narrated by Morgan Freeman.
Cruise’s character is a docker who needs to look after his children, whom he is estranged from. and helps them reunite with their mother—as intelligent, merciless extraterrestrials invade the earth with giant machines and high-tech weapons. Filming the movie took 73 days with filming done in Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, California, and New York state.