Amulet

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Amulet Movie Poster Image
Brutal monster movie is twisted but artfully gooey.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

If you do something evil, you are evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While there's a bit of an element of female justice, there are no positive examples of role models or representations.

Violence

Gross, spooky imagery. A monster-type creature. Frequent images of blood. Brutal stabbings, bites, strangulation. A sexual assault is implied but not readily seen. Discussions of staying in an abusive relationship and self-harm. Birth is made to be frightening.

Sex

A few kisses. A couple is seen lying in bed together with shoulders exposed, implying they had sex. In a nonsexual situation, an elderly man's genitals are exposed.

Language

Two uses of "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A clear liquid is poured out of a flask into a beverage. Supporting character smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amulet is a supernatural horror film that relies on suspense and creepy imagery. It's more icky than scary: An elderly mother is so decrepit that she's literally oozing. Mama is kept in the attic, writhing on the floor in constant pain -- so much so that she frequently lashes out physically at her caretaker daughter. Violence begets more violence, especially stabbings and strangulation. There's plenty of dripping blood here, including some from menstruation and birth. While the lead character is male, writer-director Romola Garai's work is imbued with a strong female point of view, including embracing women who've been victimized (there's an off-camera sexual assault). An unusual romance develops; it culminates in a couple of kisses and a post-implied-sex cuddle with bare shoulders above the covers. In a nonsexual situation, an elderly man's genitals are exposed. A supporting character smokes and carries a flask, and there are a couple of uses of "f--k."

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What's the story?

In AMULET, unhoused ex-soldier Tomaz (Alec Secareanu) is haunted by his memories of the war. A kindly nun (Imelda Staunton) arranges for him to get room and board in exchange for fixing the decaying house of Magda (Carla Juni) and her dying mother. As Tomaz starts to fall for Magda, he becomes worried about the elderly woman's unusual hold on her daughter.

Is it any good?

This is a pretty twisted movie you might regret watching, but in making it, actress Romola Garai proves she has a promising future as a director. She has a sophisticated eye, and in joining forces with first-time feature cinematographer Laura Bellingham, she demonstrates a knack for creating warmth and chills through crisp color and artistic composition. Amulet's visuals are breathtaking: The beauty and serenity of Tomaz's comfortable wartime post contrast sharply with his current revolting residence and its hideous upstairs occupant. The house is a splay of mold spores, grime, and black toilet water -- and that's where the retching begins. The more Tomaz discovers what lies above his ceiling, the more repulsive it gets. Suffice it to say the elderly woman hasn't aged well: She isn't just wrinkled, she's rotting, dripping, slimy ... juicy. Garai doesn't hold back the blecch.

While Garai succeeds here as a director, she needs improvement as a writer. Horror is known as a good genre to cut your teeth on, and Garai relies on several scary movie clichés: haunted house, supernatural elements, monsters, and even full-fanged bats. Of course, there are also secrets. That, however, is where the story shines. After taking viewers through an uncomfortable hour and a half that will likely make them want to shower in disinfectant, the ending is both bizarro and rewarding. It leaves you shocked. And cheering.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Amulet is a mostly female production. Why is representation important in filmmaking, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes? How is the female experience written into this film? How does it compare to other horror movies you've seen?

  • How does this movie merge the concept of the monsters we hear about in real life with our idea of movie monsters?

  • What's the appeal of scary movies? Which horror clichés are included -- and does it bring a new angle to any of them?

  • A moment of nudity is pivotal: Do you think it was necessary to include it? Why or why not?

  • The cigarette usage here can be likened to a smoking gun. Do you think it's glamorized or important to the story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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