Being a father can be a tough job sometimes. Providing for your family and raising kids is hard enough without demons, ghosts, serial killers, or an apocalypse attempting to sabotage your parenting skills. For horror movie dads, any day that ends with the kids alive and unpossessed should count as a win. In honor of Father’s Day this weekend our writing team shared some of their favorite horror movie dads.
Josh Lambert from Insidious
In this modern haunted house classic that spawned a franchise, Patrick Wilson headlines as Josh, a loving husband and father of three. Having recently moved into a new home, a freak accident places his oldest son into a coma. From there, the malevolent pranks you expect from a haunt begins, but where Josh differs from many dads in these types of films is that he’s more than willing to swallow his pride and move the family out of the house almost immediately. He’s inclined to embrace the bizarre and supernatural if it means saving his son, Dalton, from The Further, the astral realm that he and his son share a connection to. Even when Josh finds out that a more sinister force is after him (and has been for years), he doesn’t hesitate to go into the belly of the beast and save his son from the demon that took him. In the sequel, while stuck in The Further, Josh continues looking for a way to get home, even fighting off against spirits that plague his family at different points in time. You can’t get more devoted than Josh, and though the series focused away from his character in subsequent entries, Wilson will return and make his directorial debut in Chapter 5. Where the series goes from here, is anyone’s guess, but Josh will be seeing Dalton off to college and who knows what possibilities lie there.
Steve Freeling from Poltergeist
For me, Craig T. Nelson is the original horror dad. Poltergeist shook me to my feeble core when I first watched it at a young age, but the spirit of the family that wouldn’t quit always left a loving mark. Nelson as Steve Freeling is the literal anchor of his family. When his wife and children express concern over things happening around them, he takes them seriously. He is first to leap into danger to rescue Robbie (Oliver Robins) from a tree trying to devour him, or into the unfinished swimming pool to find Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). As his family comes undone, so does he – getting progressively disheveled and unkempt as his family explodes further apart. It breaks his heart to have to even pretend to discipline his daughter, only being able to do so as an act of saving her from being trapped in another realm. Proving himself as the father who holds the family together, he holds the rope which allows his wife Diane (JoBeth Williams) to rescue their daughter and bring the family back together. The final moment of Nelson ripping the TV out of the hotel room has always felt triumphant and a full summation of who his character is. In this writer’s humble opinion, Craig T. Nelson walked so Patrick Wilson could run.
-Carissa Jean Mares
Lt. Don Thompson from