Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The ultimate message here is that everything is ultimately meaningless.
Positive Role Models
Phae-Agura is only in one segment, and she doesn't come out well (no one here does), but she's an intrepid warrior who believes in the power of books and knowledge. She's all about sharing the library with the masses and protecting the knowledge within the library. A few characters have devoted their lives to keeping significant information from the general populace.
White men are the story's main focus, with a couple of key exceptions. Phae-Agura doesn't appear for very long, but she provides a positive representation of a strong, smart, brave Black woman. And Tzod is a powerful woman who's shown naked throughout the movie with a realistic body type.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Extreme animated fantasy violence: Many characters are killed, and there's lots of blood. Blood is used for rituals. Characters are shot by arrows and sliced by swords and axes. A character's face is burned; the gory, ruined result is shown. Bodies are impaled. Heads and limbs are lopped off. Eyes are pierced. Entrails are shown. Bones are snapped. Organs are snatched and ripped out of bodies. A character is torn in half, with their heart plucked out and crushed. Many bloody corpses shown. Women hit or kicked; women's corpses shown, with arms slit open (drained of blood). Re-animated skeletons.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Grahpic, persistent animated male and female full-frontal nudity throughout (largely in a non-sexual context). A naked woman lies on a bed and caresses herself. A eunuch is mentioned.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Infrequent language includes "s--t," "c--k," and "cretins."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character appears drunk, slurring his words and slurping from a glass of wine. Background/social drinking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Spine of Night is a very mature animated sci-fi/fantasy movie. It's filled with extreme blood and gore, as well as persistent (though largely non-sexual) full-frontal male and female nudity. Violence includes impaling, heads and limbs being chopped off, eyes getting pierced, faces burned, bones snapped, bodies torn to pieces, a heart plucked out and crushed, re-animated skeletons, and lots of blood (some used in rituals). Women are punched and kicked, and women's corpses are shown, their arms sliced open and drained of blood. A naked woman lies on a bed and caresses herself, and a eunuch is mentioned. Language is very infrequent but includes a use of "s--t" and a use of "c--k." A character appears drunk, slurping wine and slurring his words, and there's some background/social drinking. 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 extremely mature animated sci-fi gorefest makes up for its wooden storytelling with its wild visuals, old-timey Rotoscope animation (both fluid and creepy), and all-out, unchecked tone. Paying tribute to films like Heavy Metal, animators like Ralph Bakshi (The Lord of the Rings, Fire and Ice, Cool World), and artists like Frank Frazetta, The Spine of Night goes full-bore. In terms of nudity and gore, it handily surpasses any of its inspirations; characters in The Spine of Night aren't just stabbed and sliced -- their flesh and blood goes flying in different directions. But the dialogue is mostly dreadful, with static, serious descriptions and explanations of just how dire everything is.
A notable exception is a scene in which a young couple, having survived an attack on their village, plops a bit of bloom in their fire and starts to "see the universe." They talk in high-school level poetry (the film's title comes from their dialogue). The movie's animation, which traces the movements of live actors, is close enough to real life to feel creepy, but it's also mesmerizing. Lawless, Grant, and Gabriel (the latter of whom actually looks like herself) manage solid performances, while Oswalt seems miscast. Larry Fessenden is hilarious as an old man who shrieks "Doom! Hahahaha! Doom! Hahahaha!" Despite its creaky storytelling, the sheer corporeal energy of The Spine of Night may earn it a cult following.
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.