Parents' Guide to

Max Winslow and the House of Secrets

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Engaging but imperfect mystery may feel too familiar.

Movie PG 2020 98 minutes
Max Winslow and the House of Secrets Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 13+

The stuff of nightmares

I can’t believe this is just rated PG. luckily I was watching with my kids- we turned it off once it started getting scary. I didn’t like how it was a psychological thriller with super creepy music and hurtful concepts throughout. This is the kind of movie that gives your kid nightmares.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much consumerism
age 16+

Slow moving and boring

Bad acting. The cast seemed like a bunch of kids that were randomly picked from a local high school. No idea who the target audience is. The plot was basically Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...5 kids selected to go to a mansion...etc. It was hard to understand what they were saying because of all the mumbling and quiet talking and the dialogue was weak, not to mention all the scenes were not lit well so every scene was dark. Whole movie seemed like a desperate attempt to be relatable to the new gamer and social media self obsessed generation. We turned it off mid way through and had no idea what we just watched.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4):
Kids say (1):

This curiosity of a smart-house-escape-room mystery will keep tweens on the edge of their seats, even if it's a little amateurish. Despite substantial evidence in the entertainment world that kids enjoy mysteries, few of them exist for this age group. Which is too bad, since kids like to figure things out. Still, even though Max Winslow and the House of Secrets allows kids' minds to work while they're sitting back, that doesn't mean everything quite adds up. Virtue may be a genius, but some of his challenges are lawsuits waiting to happen. Also, the whole setup -- including why these particular five kids were selected -- is pretty shaky. (If these are the "bad kids" of Bentonville High, can we all send our kids to school there?) And the way some of the games work feels less like advanced technology and more like a mind manipulation/Vanilla Sky situation.

Writer Jeff Wild's script seems like it must be an adaptation of a middle grade novel. It's not, but it might feel that way because the plot has a lot in common with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And that's not the only "homage" in play: The house is reminiscent of Clue, and the characters are like modern takes on The Breakfast Club. Of course, it's less likely that today's tweens will know those films, so hopefully it will all feel new to them. Some parents may be distracted by the similarities to their old favorites, but kids will stay engaged and involved all the way to the end.

Movie Details

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