The Binding

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Binding Movie Poster Image
Italian horror movie about evil spirits; violence, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Don't visit places where evil spirits lurk. 

Positive Role Models

Emma is a protective mother who tries to save her child. Teresa looks suspicious at first, but turns out to be good-hearted.

Violence

The usual horror stuff -- a girl is taken over by spirits. She's bitten by a tarantula and we see the wound. Later it festers and is lanced, launching a Vesuvius of lava-like blood and pus. The girl's face goes white with a road map of dark veins. Her eyes become clouded and milky. A woman is held down in an exorcism rite and is cut shallowly on her back with a knife. That woman attacks people and growls like an animal. She kisses a man and leaves his lips bloody, presumably to pass on her evil to him. He strangles her, but she returns to life later. A woman stabs herself in the shoulder with a pair of scissors, then bleeds profusely. A young girl in a trance scratches her arm bloody. A woman's arm is gashed deeply. A creepy ceiling stain grows larger. A car crashes and the driver receives a gash on her forehead. Bad things happen to people who want to have abortions.

Sex

Briefly, a man and woman have sex under bed covers.

Language

One use of "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teresa is the mistress of folksy superstition and herbal meds. An adult smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Binding (not to be confused with a 2016 movie of the same title) is an Italian movie (with English subtitles) about creepy superstitions in the south of Italy, where it's believed evil spirits take over seemingly innocent people. While this features the typical horror genre architecture of ominous music, dark rooms, and sudden jolts of scariness, this also makes a social statement about abortion: Bad things happen to people who want them. A character is bitten by a tarantula and we see the wound, which festers and is lanced, launching a Vesuvius of lava-like blood and pus. A woman is held down in an exorcism rite and is cut shallowly on her back with a knife. That woman attacks people and growls like an animal. A woman stabs herself in the shoulder with a pair of scissors then bleeds profusely. A young girl in a trance scratches her arm bloody. A woman's arm is gashed deeply. A creepy ceiling stain grows larger. A couple is briefly seen having sex under bed covers. Language includes one use of the word "f--k." Smoking.

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What's the story?

In THE BINDING, happy couple Emma (Mia Maestro) and Francesco (Ricardo Samarico) travel with her daughter Sofia (Giulia Patrignani) to surprise his mother, Teresa (Mariella Lo Sardo) at the rural southern Italian mansion where he grew up. Inside these dark rooms, strange prayers are whispered. Teresa and her friend Sabrina seem grim and worried. When a tarantula bites Sofia, evil spirits are unleashed, and so is the backstory. Long ago, young Francesco fell for a local girl named Ada. He got her pregnant, but he wasn't "ready" to be a father and wanted her to abort the pregnancy. When Ada said no, Francesco turned to ancestral black magic to end the pregnancy, but bungled it. He must have read the instructions wrong, because although Ada lost the baby, she turned into someone badly in need of an exorcist. The lovely girl cracked mirrors with her gaze, growled like Darth Vader, and disappeared into the surrounding forest for many years. When happy Francesco shows up with fiancée Emma and Sofia, Ada comes out of the woodwork and "binds" Sofia to her evil self, with the goal of also binding Francesco so they can live an undead life in a nuclear family, happily ever after.

Is it any good?

There's nothing notable to set this apart from a wide selection of competent but otherwise banal, mid-level, demonic-possession horror films. The Binding has the something-terrible-is-about-to-happen music, and the something-terrible-is-about-to-happen facial expressions of the characters already in the know, and the something-terrible-has-just-happened screams of those just finding out, right on cue. A creaky old house sits on a field of gnarled old trees. A tarantula bites someone. Grandma has a chemistry set of weird treatments and cures. It's all the usual stuff. But none of the horror is explained in any detail, so most of the time, although the music warns us, we really don't know enough to experience the pre-anxiety of fright-to-come, the stuff that the best horror movies are made of.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether horror movies are scary because they seem real or because they're so obviously not real. Why do you think this?

  • Do you think the reason Ada "binds" Sofia is adequately explained to make tThe Binding work? Why or why not?

  • Why are horror movies so popular? Why do you think some people want to be scared?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

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