A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thriller is a scary movie about a childhood prank that went wrong; years later, the person blamed for it appears to be seeking revenge. Expect gory violence: A killer breaks fingers, slices torsos (with oozing blood), and bashes victims with rocks and baseball bats. Guns are drawn, teens punch and fight, a young girl (and other characters) die, etc. Language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, and more. A teen girl has sex in a car, though nothing graphic is shown. Teens kiss, and there are a few sexual gestures. A teen boy smokes pot, a grown woman is shown staggering drunk, and teens appear to be drinking alcohol out of red party cups. The movie is set in South Central Los Angeles and features a non-white cast (adding welcome diversity to the horror genre), but it's amateurish and riddled with dead ends and abandoned ideas.
What's the story?
In THRILLER, a group of kids in South Central Los Angeles decides to play a prank on Chauncey, a kindhearted boy with a stutter. They lure him into an abandoned house and scare him with skull masks. In a state of panic, Chauncey pushes a girl from a second-story landing; she falls to her death. The friends agree to blame Chauncey for the crime, and he's locked away. Four years later, the friends are in high school, and it's homecoming weekend. As they prepare for the big game and the dance, Chauncey arrives back in the neighborhood. Soon after, a figure in a black hoodie starts killing everyone who was responsible for the prank. Who will survive homecoming night? Mykelti Williamson co-stars as a police detective; RZA plays the school principal, co-produced the film, and composed the music.
Is it any good?
This amateurish film feels like a bunch of loose ends, which is a shame, since a version of I Know What You Did Last Summer with a non-white cast in South Central Los Angeles sounds like a great idea. But Thriller fails to follow through on any of its themes. Even though it runs less than 90 minutes, it spends a lot of time developing characters and comes up with very little other than the usual high school cliches: the college-bound brain, the football star, the nerd, the celebrity-obsessed girl, the troublemaker, etc. The horror/thriller elements are handled poorly, seemingly inspired by the most bottom-of-the-barrel-slasher films.
Victims run, scream, and hide in the dumbest places, fail to turn around and look behind them, and even fall down while being chased. We even get the typical surprise "nightmare" scene (it was just a bad dream!). Weirdly, the dead girl's twin sister speaks in her voice while looking in the mirror, but nothing comes of it. Perhaps worse, the setting contributes virtually nothing to the story, aside from two little speeches -- one about having to act "hard" to survive in the streets and another about a young man's fate being predetermined by the color of his skin -- that go nowhere. The only thing Thriller really had going for it is sadly squandered in a totally forgettable movie, a surprise dud from Blumhouse and Netflix.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
What's the significance of having a non-white cast for a horror movie like this? What themes does the movie cover in regard to culture and/or race?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.