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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Like many other movies about cults, this is a cautionary tale about trusting wolves in sheep's clothing who promise to make everything all better. It also champions compassion and teamwork when the women are working together to survive and demonstrates how lies and mistrust can hinder their survival.
Positive Role Models
Despite the women fighting for their freedom, the characters are ultimately victims and predators.
There are only three main characters and one supporting character in the film: Three of them are women, and two of them are three-dimensional and have agency. One of the women appears to have Latino heritage, as her last name is "Gonzales," but no specifics are mentioned or indicated.
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Violence & Scariness
Character stabbed in neck, blood gushing out, gurgling. Dead bodies, bloody faces. Blood dripping from plant leaves. Hands trying to drag person over cliff, fighting, kicking. Women in peril. Creepy nightmares. Injured ankle, with bruises. Vomiting. Dialogue describing murder: "I hit her again and again and again until she stopped." Reference to "cutting." Scars.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Woman wearing only underwear. Reference to masturbation. Side view of women's bottoms as they urinate.
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Fairly frequent strong language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "c--t," "goddamn," "oh my God," "hell," "stupid." Middle-finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Snack bags of Cheetos (both plain and Flamin' Hot) seen/consumed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug references. Character wishes to "get high as s--t." Reference to being "dosed" by someone.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Aviary is a deftly constructed thriller about two women who are trying to escape from a cult but discover that the charismatic leader still has a strong hold over them. Violence includes a character being stabbed, with gushing blood, as well as gurgling/dead bodies with bloody faces. There's also fighting, kicking, women in peril, an ankle injury (with bruises), creepy imagery/nightmares, and more. Language is also strong, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "c--t," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more. A woman appears wearing only underwear, and women's bottoms are briefly seen in side view as they urinate. There's a spoken reference to masturbation and brief drug references. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This compact, eerie little thriller makes excellent use of its wide-open spaces, flipping them to feel creepy and menacing and establishing an ever-shifting emotional flow that grips and disquiets. Written and directed by Chris Cullari and Jennifer Raite, The Aviary narrows its razor focus on just the three main characters (plus a fourth, played by Sandrine Holt, who appears in flashbacks). The descriptions of what's happened to the women and how they got where they are are handled deftly, via natural-sounding dialogue, and the women's relationship neatly undulates between compassion/helping to animosity over kept secrets.
Since both Jillian and Blair have undergone some kind of mysterious psychological conditioning, there's no way of knowing when either of them is telling the truth, lying, or under the influence of some strange suggestion. Every behavior is fraught with uncertainty and tension, which builds when Seth begins to appear. Is he really there? Who can see him? The Aviary ends with an even more diabolical scene: a promotional ad for Seth's "services" that promises to help dismantle the mental, emotional, and spiritual "cages" that people build for themselves. It's a reminder that wolves in sheep's clothing are still worth being wary of.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.