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Parents' Guide to

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Effective Shirley Jackson adaptation has violence, language.

Movie NR 2019 96 minutes
We Have Always Lived in the Castle Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 11+

Suspenseful and interesting

First of all, I love the book and suggest reading it before watching the movie. The unfolding of the plot is enjoyably suspenseful in the book. The big reveal was more predictable in the movie, not the big eye-opening surprise that you get to experience when reading. Parental notes: Meanness and violence are present. The villagers are hateful and mean to the girls throughout the film, and the climax of the movie has pretty intense vitriol. A character is killed, not directly shown, but the filmography lends itself to dark overtones that may feel disturbing to some younger viewers. This is the main issue that might make the movie unsuitable for some children or families. Witchcraft is present, though it is just a character's superstition and doesn't "work," so to speak. Language is present, as mentioned in the common sense review. The revealing nightgown mentioned in the common sense review doesn't exist. There are two scenes where a character is wearing an ordinary nightgown in a completely normal and non-sexual way. The gown is spaghetti strapped, but not low cut and not revealing. The only thing I can think of is that she is lying on her side in one scene (alone in bed, not sexual at all) and though no cleavage is shown there is a normal gravity-induced effect on her upper chest. The shirtless male is also non-sexual, though for a moment you think there might be a romantic interaction while he is without his shirt.
age 12+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Based on Shirley Jackson's great gothic novel, Stacie Passon's movie is perhaps a bit on the light side, but she nonetheless creates a strong, vivid atmosphere in which the characters can flourish. To start, her casting is spot on. The four lead performers all have a certain appealing, edgy quality to them, and none is afraid of genre or horror work. They all dive deeply into the material. We Have Always Lived in the Castle preserves Jackson's themes of evil hidden among the everyday -- not only the hate spewed by the villagers, but also the supreme ego and male entitlement embodied by Charles.

If the movie is missing something, though, it's that Charles comes across as a bit too evil. Stan plays him a bit too broadly, and since the movie is missing the voice of Merricat's deceptive narration, the portrayal is a little too out in the open. Otherwise, Passon's beautiful staging -- along with the majestic, intricate sound design -- helps convey the feel of a house that has been much the same for a very long time. And even though We Have Always Lived in the Castle has a bright, swift quality, it doesn't necessarily betray the moody heart of the story. All in all, Jackson's fans should find plenty to savor here.

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