A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real messages here. The evil thing that comes for the family does so without any reason or explanation.
Positive Role Models
Characters return home to be with a dying family member, although this act is portrayed as rather basic, rather than admirable. And things fall apart so thoroughly that there's no real chance for anyone to exhibit any admirable tendencies. In fact, Michael runs away from the house at one point, abandoning his sister and heading home.
Violence & Scariness
Strong blood and gore, blood spatters, pools of blood. Scary stuff, jump scares, creepy, lurking figures. Character chops fingers off. Character hanged by rope. Shotgun shown. Character seemingly slicing her own flesh. Character shoots self in head. Nightmares. Field full of dead, slaughtered goats; carnage. Character slicing own neck. Character stabs face and eyes with knitting needles. Character's head bashed against wall. Image of dead family, mother and two girls, killed with knife. Spider in mouth.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Naked elderly female ghost, partly obscured by shadow, breasts visible.
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Uses of "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "goddamn," and "damn," plus exclamatory use of "Jesus Christ."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character smokes cigarettes. Characters drink bottles of beer with dinner and after dinner on the porch.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dark and the Wicked is a well-made, scary horror movie about adult siblings (Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott Jr.) who return home to be with their dying father but find that some kind of evil force is taking over. It has lots of blood and gore, with deaths, blood sprays, pools of blood, characters taking their own lives, slicing, stabbing, and shooting, a field full of dead goats, fingers chopped off, and various additional nightmarish imagery. A naked elderly female ghost is seen, partly obscured by shadow, but with breasts visible. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," etc. A main character smokes cigarettes, and two characters drink beer with and after dinner. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Essentially a haunted house movie, this foreboding, scary flick relies on a few old horror tricks but somehow freshens them up with its strong, vivid characters and its dark sense of the unknown. Writer-director Bryan Bertino, who's best known for his gory, brutal home invasion movie The Strangers, takes a step back into something more classical with The Dark and the Wicked. With potent sound design and use of music, he makes an old farmhouse and its accompanying barn into places of terror. A homemade alarm system consisting of empty bottles and bits of metal dangling from strings becomes more of an attack than a warning.
Bertino uses many jump scares and artificial shocks, but within this atmosphere, they're genuinely chilling. Some scenes are laden with visual effects, but others, such as a simple phone call, can likewise make your skin crawl. Ireland and Abbott Jr. are very strong in their roles, arguing about what to do and wanting to get out of the house but unable to leave their dying father. (A nurse asserts that a person dying alone is the worst thing that can happen.) The siblings' dynamic, full of regret and weariness, feels authentic. But perhaps the best thing about The Dark and the Wicked is that it understands how the scariest stuff in the world is the unknown, and it uses that effectively, right up to the final moment.
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.