A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No notable positive messages here. Bad things happen to good people for no reason. Family members are sometimes not very communicative with each other.
Positive Role Models
No clear role models. Characters, including family members, can act somewhat detached from one another. Supporting characters sometimes try to be helpful in vague ways, but main characters are merely struggling.
Violence & Scariness
Child falls from high place (briefly seen in background); sound of bones cracking. Child in peril. Dead bodies. Bodies hanging from nooses. Some blood. Scary stuff/jump scares. Scary sounds, screaming. Gross vomiting. House on fire.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Young girl references "getting married and having lots of babies."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
A few uses of "s--t." Also exclamatory use of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A supporting character is drunk in one scene; nearly empty bottle of vodka shown. Another character asks her to "clean yourself up." (Alcohol dependency is implied.) Characters occasionally drink wine at dinner or around the house. Characters share a cigarette. Prescription pills for a child are chopped up and put into milk.
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 Z is a horror movie about an 8-year-old boy's imaginary friend gone wrong. A child falls from a high place (briefly seen in the background), and cracking bones can be heard. Another child is in peril. Scenes show dead bodies, and bodies hanging from nooses, as well as some blood smears. There are plenty of other scary things, as well as creepy noises and jump scares. Language includes a few uses of "s--t" and exclamations of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ." A supporting character is very drunk in one scene (a nearly empty bottle of vodka is shown); another character tells her to "clean yourself up." Other casual drinking is shown, two characters share a cigarette, and prescription pills for a child are chopped up and put into milk. Sex isn't an issue. The characters are sometimes frustrating, but the movie is so cleverly constructed that the scares really work. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Marred by a few gaps in character logic and behavior, this "imaginary friend" horror movie is nonetheless quite spooky thanks to its clever camera setups, sharp sense of timing, and startling music. Directed and co-written by Brandon Christensen, Z immediately comes across as brisk, skillful work, with a touching, soundless scene demonstrating Josh's isolation. As "Z" starts its reign of terror, the movie works largely with sudden shocks, but they're far more skillful and thoughtful than regular old jump scares. Christensen even uses some creaky old genre staples such as a boy staring blankly at an unseen wall, or a woman taking a bath in a tub surrounded by candles to unleash big scares.
One scene involving a staircase will make even the most jaded horror fans shriek. But the characters can be very frustrating. Kevin always seems two steps behind, and the things that he and Beth choose not to say to each other are baffling. Not to mention the strange reaction to Josh's being expelled (they take him to a huge indoor playground?) and the lack of concern over the grandmother's death and other troubling events. Even Dr. Seager, who seems to know what's going on, takes a long time to actually help out, although McHattie is always fun to watch. Moreover, Tracy is sympathetic as Beth, and Z on the whole is so technically shrewd and thrilling that it's definitely worth a look.
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.