The Skulls

Movie review by
Nancy Warren, Common Sense Media
The Skulls Movie Poster Image
Dumb, but some teens will enjoy it anyway.
  • PG-13
  • 2000
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Quite a lot, including murder, car wrecks, punching, and shooting. Surveillance cameras and bugs in Luke's room add to the constant ominous conspiratorial overtones.


It's implied that two characters have sex in the shower. Women are brought to a Skulls pledge event, presumably for sexual favors.


Some strong language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some smoking and drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this PG-13 rated movie's bone-crunching violence is probably too much for those under thirteen and sensitive younger teens. Parents may also want to discuss secret societies/fraternities/sororities and hazing with their children.

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What's the story?

In this thriller, college student Luke (Joshua Jackson) wants to get into Harvard Law School so desperately that he joins a secret society called the Skulls. Everything starts out fine, and Luke enjoys the perks, but when his roommate dies and it's deemed a suicide, Luke begins to suspect the society has a hand in it and embarks on a dangerous investigation.

Is it any good?

Veteran director Rob Cohen keeps THE SKULLS moving, even when the action stops making sense. Adults may become impatient with the many lapses in logic. However, this is a thriller for teens. The main character learns that money and power at the expense of friendship isn't worth it--not such a bad message during a time when wealth is seen as the ultimate, if not only, barometer of success.

One fifteen-year-old female viewer liked the two friends Luke leaves behind the best: fellow rower and outsider Will, whose murder sparks Luke's turnaround, and the girl upstairs, Chloe. Will is a strong, if briefly developed African-American character, and Chloe turns out to be one tough woman, planning getaways and out-driving killer SUVs. But even the fifteen-year-old saw where the plot went awry. The scene in which Luke goes from a thorazine coma to fighting a duel exasperated her, but it didn't dampen her overall enthusiasm. Bottom line: The glossy visuals, intriguing settings, and action in The Skulls may help teens forget that all the plot twists add up to a pretzel.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a good thriller.

Movie details

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