A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film does not have strong positive messages, but touches upon themes such as inequality, climate change, and the nature of agency, choice, and responsibility. Adult themes such as suicide, anorexia, and child sexual abuse are all referenced to certain degrees. Racist attitudes depicted.
Positive Role Models
Most characters behave badly, with adults adopting a carefree attitude, drinking, smoking drugs, and arguing, as well as bragging about stealing from a gas station. Children are often seen to be demanding, brattish, and disrespectful. This is, however, shown to be understandable in both cases, as an avoidance tactic to escape a stark reality. Eldest boy, Art, stands out as clever, thoughtful, and kind, showing concern for others outside of the home and questioning the information provided by those in authority.
Two Black characters are included in the ensemble cast, though their roles are not prominent. A same-sex female couple are given a similarly intricate relationship to the straight couples, though one lesbian character adheres to stereotype, wearing a suit and sitting in a way that would traditionally be considered masculine. A character makes a flippant reference to an "Arab" lady and that she thinks it "un-PC" to hit a lady in a burqa. Another racist comment involves a character saying another sounded "very African" when they first met, "like Mowgli from The Jungle Book." There is very little body diversity -- all characters are very slim and traditionally attractive. They are also almost exclusively from high socio-economic backgrounds, having all attended the same private school. There is passing discussion of the government not providing "exit pills" for people experiencing homelessness or illegal immigrants, because they "don't legally exist," highlighting inequality -- though most characters feel this is not of their concern.
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Violence & Scariness
Dead bodies are shown, including that of a baby. A character stabs another in the stomach, resulting in presumed death. Suicide is referenced repeatedly, with characters planning to take a pill that ends their life without pain. A child accidentally cuts themselves with a kitchen knife, with blood shown. Clouds of poisonous gas are seen and there is graphic description of how it effects the body, including convulsions, hemorrhaging, and blood from orifices, which is played out on-screen later in the film. Ebola is also referenced by a child. There is a passing mention of drowning, zombies, cancer, and the death of a parent. Children play violent video games. The sexual abuse of a minor is alluded to in relation to an event from the past, with a character spelling out "paedo" on a scrabble board.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss on the lips. There are sexual references, including how much sex characters have and who has slept with each other. There is mention of affairs.
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Frequent strong language is used by adults and children alike, including "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "c--t," "piss," "pissed," "piss head," "ass," "a--hole," "c--k," and "bugger." Also "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ," and at one point a character says "F--k God." Characters express racist attitudes without using explicit language.
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Products & Purchases
A lavish get-together takes place in a large country estate, which belongs to two of the characters. The characters are nearly all from privileged, high-income backgrounds.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A non-drinker falls off the wagon, drinking directly from the bottle and passing out from intoxication. Other characters frequently drink sparkling wine and drunken behavior is shown. Marijuana is smoked briefly and there is passing mention of cocaine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Silent Night is a dark Christmas drama with both horror and comedy elements, and deals with adult themes, including suicide and the end of the world. When Nell (Keira Knightley) and husband Simon (Matthew Goode) invite their old school friends and their families to join them for a Christmas party at their country estate, old secrets and hostilities resurface. Tough subject matters are bought up such as anorexia and the implied sexual abuse of minors, though the characters often do so flippantly. There is very strong language throughout from adults and children, including frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t." There is some violence, including a character being stabbed in the stomach, and another experiencing convulsions and hemorrhaging, as well as a constant level of threat from a poisonous gas cloud throughout the second half of the film. Characters drink and smoke marijuana, and behave in careless and often unlikable ways. The movie has some heart and warmth, particularly toward the end, and raises important themes. But its language, violence, and difficult concept may make it inappropriate for younger teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Very much an alternative Christmas movie, and one to counteract the sparkle and schmaltz of the season, this is definitely an adult affair. Silent Night's doomsday context isn't anything new, but it is revealed gradually, shedding light on the underlying tensions and forced positivity ruminating on-screen throughout the first 20 minutes. Knightley's Nell, in particular, is unwilling to let her game face slide, determined to go out with a bang with a night to remember. At its center, it's a slightly shallow character study of people coming to terms with their own mortality and that of those they love, never quite delving far enough beneath the obnoxious behavior to satisfactorily explore some of its complex concepts. Young Art -- played with great sensitivity by Roman Griffin Davis -- is the most relatable character, exploring the confusion and desperation of the situation and questioning the ethics in a way the adults appear to have moved well beyond.
The sinister undertone is suitably unsettling, questioning what lengths characters may go to as they begin to doubt their choices and hit desperation. A pact is in place to take the "exit pill" the government has provided to offer a painless death, but what happens if the pact is broken or the plan doesn't work? There is a constant unease about exactly where this is going, which plays right out to the final scene. There is some humor -- all of it dark, much of it swearing related -- and a great use of music, including the theme to Fame, with the lyrics "I'm gonna live forever" blaring through the speakers as the adults get increasingly intoxicated to escape reality. Entertaining, if a little uneven, Silent Night is likely to appeal to those who enjoy a darker take on their holiday entertainment, with simmering tension, a flicker of humor, and a solid helping of existential angst.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.