Z for Zachariah

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Z for Zachariah Movie Poster Image
Postapocalyptic sci-fi drama focuses on flawed characters.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie features some teamwork, but there's a kind of unrest simmering under it; though the characters work together, a betrayal is close at hand.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ann remains pure at heart throughout, although she's easily manipulated by another character. She's close to the land and spiritual, can take care of herself, and is devoted to helping others. She's selfless and trusting.


Some arguing and vague threats; tension. A death/murder is hinted at but is left ambiguous. Spoken stories of terrible, gruesome things happening during the nuclear apocalypse. Rifles shown. Hunting, shooting wild turkeys. Tiny amount of blood shown. Injections with a hypo needle.


Kissing, undressing, woman shown in her bra. Implied sex. A naked man shown being scrubbed; no sensitive body parts shown. Characters swim together. Intimate dancing.


A use of "f--k," a use of "s--t," and a use of "damn."


M&Ms mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character gets drunk on beer. Characters share bottles of wine at dinner, overindulging.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Z for Zachariah is a postapocalyptic drama that focuses on a love triangle between three survivors of nuclear devastation. There aren't any battle scenes or grisly effects, but scenes do have underlying tension and vague threats, and characters speak about horrible things they saw after the disaster. A death/murder is hinted at but is left ambiguous; rifles are shown and fired. A woman kisses two different men; sex is implied in one case. She's shown in her bra and is intimate and comfortable with a man (i.e. dancing). Brief language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "damn." Adult characters get drunk on beer and wine. The movie features some teamwork, but there's a betrayal close at hand. And while Ann is selfless and helpful and can take care of herself, she's also easily manipulated.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychibi-sense June 11, 2016

Explicit and unpleasant sex

I think the reviewer must have popped out for a cup of tea mid movie, because the one sex scene between a drunk and confused young girl and an unscrupulous olde... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byrodria August 29, 2015

Dear Margot Robbie

Yesterday The Movie Premiered In The USA Thanks.
Kid, 8 years old September 4, 2015

Violent and racy horror like thriller has some nudity, suspense.

My rating:R for grisly references and violent content,language,and racy content/nudity.
Teen, 14 years old Written bypoopylands November 4, 2020



What's the story?

In the wake of a nuclear disaster that's left the world a radioactive wasteland, a farmer named Ann (Margot Robbie) somehow survives, untouched by the destruction. She grows food, hunts, and gets water from a well. Then a stranger wearing a radiation suit, Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor), stumbles into her world. Ann nurses the sick man back to health, and Loomis, a skilled engineer, helps her prepare for the coming winter, teaching her things and building new energy sources. They slowly fall in love, but their world is further disrupted by the appearance of Caleb (Chris Pine), a blue-eyed smooth-talker who seems to know how to get what he wants. Can the trio survive, or will their volatile chemistry come to a head?

Is it any good?

This postapocalyptic drama does away with mutated monsters, evil power mongers, chases, explosions, and grisly effects and simply, effectively focuses on the deeds and emotions of three people. Robbie is wonderful, embodying a kind of spiritual, earthy innocence, while her beauty sneaks out almost as if by itself. Ejiofor plays a similarly complex role, patient and kind, but with a dark side, and Pine is efficient as a smoldering bad boy.

Z FOR ZACHARIAH doesn't delve into its backdrop very deeply, and it doesn't really use its essence as part of the love triangle. The characters' story seems to happen all on its own, regardless of the state of the world; there's very little feeling of the threat lurking at the edges of the story. But the movie's efforts to zoom in on its characters and forgo sci-fi cliches are admirable and efficient. The characters' strong chemistry and conflict are enough to make this one worth seeing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Z for Zachariah depicts sex. How do the two men each view Ann? How does this add to their characters? What significance does sex play in the story? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.

  • Why do you think the characters drink? Is drinking portrayed as appropriate and pleasurable or overdone and destructive?

  • What's the appeal of the postapocalyptic subgenre of sci-fi? What can these kinds of movies teach us about the way we live now? Did you miss not having mutants, chases, fights, etc. in this movie? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi and drama

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