"Wraith," the recently-released supernatural thriller, seeks to drive home that all life is God-breathed and sacred at every stage, according to writer-director Michael O. Sajbel.
Released on May 8, the PG-13 film explores the supernatural story of a family who invites evil into their home after they decide they might not go forward with an unplanned pregnancy.
Sajbel, a born-again Christian who previously directed "One Night With the King" based on the biblical story of Esther, told The Christian Post he set out to make a "scary" film that would appeal to teens while promoting a strong pro-life message.
"The theme of this movie is that life wants to live, life wants to thrive, and God is the author of that life," he shared. "Unfortunately, today, out of our arrogance, we believe we can control it and manipulate and terminate it for our own convenience. We're taught that life isn't viable and it's a mass of tissue. Really, what's in the womb is a living, God-breathed, God-knitted person. This film, while not promoting any particular agenda, is very life-affirming."
The film's synopsis reads: "After living uneventfully for years in their historic home, the Lukens family have somehow awakened a ghostly presence. Who is this frightening spirit and why won't it leave their 14-year-old daughter, Lucy, alone? Everything changed when Dennis and Katie Lukens discovered they were pregnant again. Expecting a baby in your 40s is always high-risk and dangerous, so when the Lukens decide all options are on the table — including termination — the unexpected starts to happen. Sinister forces are now conspiring against the family. But is this eerie, wraith-like spirit actually trying to haunt them ... or help them?"
Sajbel, who filmed "Wraith" in Wisconsin, acknowledged that abortion is a relatively taboo topic in Hollywood. Integrating a pro-life message with a horror story, he said, was a unique way to grab viewers' attention.
"It's such a divisive topic," he admitted. "There are believers in the film industry, but these kinds of films don't get made. And, whatever you want to say in a movie, you have to first entertain people; you have to do something in a way that someone else hasn't before. A bump-in-the-night storyline was a way to do this."
Throughout the film, Sabjel incorporated biblical themes, imagery, and figures such as Molech, a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice, who is referenced in the Old Testament books of Leviticus, 2 Kings and Jeremiah.
"I wanted to demonstrate the reality of spiritual warfare; the Bible tells us our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms," he said. "When you're dealing with naming an evil entity, you have to take a lot of precautions because the spiritual realm is very real. Because of this, we made sure to start every day of filming with a prayer of protection."
Sajbel told CP he was initially inspired to write the ghostly script after his 13-year-old daughter wanted to bring some friends to the family home to watch a horror film.
"So I watched the film in advance, and within five minutes, I said, 'There's no way you're watching this,'" he recalled. "It was raunchy and full of inappropriate language. She said, 'Well, what can I watch?' That planted a seed of, let's make a horror film that is not deeply offensive and has no violence, language or nudity. Parents are always agonizing over what films their kids should or shouldn't watch, and I want them to know that this is a film that resonates with their values, even though it is scary."
"That's one message," he added, "and the other is, life is sacred and life in any form — and it's God's property and invention — and at any stage should be treasured and protected."
"Wraith" stars Jackson Hurst, Ali Hillis, Lance Henriksen, Jensen Buchanan, Catherine Frances, and Lily Hansen. To learn more, visit www.wraiththemovie.com.