A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bedeviled is a horror movie about a supernatural serial killer who takes the form of a smartphone app. The movie has lots of scary images, jump scares, and killings (including dismemberment), and the deaths actually mean something here; characters are allowed to mourn their friends. Language is strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. Teens have sex, but nothing is seen -- viewers hear the sounds via a video on a phone -- though the characters are shown together in bed immediately following. The sex act is posted to Instagram, and there's some sex talk and sexual innuendo. Facebook is also mentioned, as are several pills and drugs (Molly, poppers, smack, etc.). The movie seems specifically targeted to teens -- adult characters aren't really around -- and even though it doesn't entirely succeed, it does try to break out of some old genre chestnuts (e.g., by having a lead male character who's African-American, rather than relegating characters of color to first-to-die status).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In BEDEVILED, Nikki (Alexis G. Zall) is mysteriously killed one night, leaving her five best friends -- Cody (Mitchell Edwards), Alice (Saxon Sharbino), Gavin (Carson Boatman), Haley (Victory Van Tuyl), and Dan (Brandon Soo Hoo) -- devastated. Soon after, they all receive invitations on their phones, from Nikki's phone, to download a new Siri-like app called "Mr. Bedevil." As soon as they download it, terrible things start happening. At first, it's just scary taunts, but things quickly escalate, from a homemade sex video being uploaded to Instagram to killer clowns appearing and tearing the kids limb from limb. Computer genius Cody must figure out how to catch the elusive app so that it can be deleted for good, but the only bait that will work is ... fear!
Is it any good?
Directed by brothers Abel and Burlee Vang, this horror movie looks great and busts open a few old genre chestnuts, but it's also predictable, bland, and not all that scary. Bedeviled features some strong cinematography, with lots of looming corridors lit by eerie glows. And, refreshingly, it features an African-American male in the lead role, rather than as the stereotypical/clichéd first victim (the character himself remarks on this unique quality). The movie even gives the teens time to mourn their friend, a necessary emotional response that's often forgotten in horror.
Moreover, Bedeviled is a great title, and it's clear that the Vang brothers wanted to start a new supernatural serial killer franchise to complement Freddy and Jason. But that's about where the excitement stops. Their Mr. Bedevil, marked by his red bow tie and clown smile, is more annoying than scary. And though the movie is clearly aimed at teens -- there are very few helpful or available adults around -- the characters are awkwardly written and rarely sound like actual people. It's an admirable attempt to rise above the murk of the slasher genre, and it almost succeeds, but then it sinks down again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Bedeviled's violence. How much is shown, and how much is implied? What impact do deaths have on the other characters? How does that compare to what you've seen in other horror movies?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
How does the movie handle teen sex? Are the characters responsible? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
What makes Cody's character atypical for a horror movie? How does his role subvert scary-movie stereotypes and clichés?
- In theaters: August 11, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 11, 2018
- Cast: Saxon Sharbino, Mitchell Edwards, Brandon Soo Hoo
- Directors: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: terror, language and some sexual material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.