Zombie Girl: The Movie

  • Review Date: November 3, 2010
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Inspirational docu follows a tween horror filmmaker.
  • Review Date: November 3, 2010
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Emily is someone who sees her project through to the end, over the course of two years, even in the face of many obstacles. Her mother, Megan, is a big part of this, and we see them working together, clashing and making up over the course of the long production. In the end their bond seems stronger than ever. Emily is allowed to see violent, gory horror films at a young age.

Positive role models

Emily is a very strong role model for pre-teens, mostly for the way that she takes on responsibility, overcomes challenges and sees her project through to the end. The movie realistically shows her in moments of doubt, and during clashes with her mother, but she emerges, victorious and having learned many lessons about filmmaking and family. The DVD extras show that she has since completed a second feature film and is at work on a third.

Violence

We see several generous clips from Australian zombie movie Undead, including heavy, comic violence and gore (glopping guts, guns, holes though bodies, etc.). The title cards for the documentary show stuffed animals that have been stabbed and slashed open, with fake blood dribbling everywhere and sharp weapons sticking out of the fluffy carcasses. Otherwise, Emily's zombie movie Pathogen features some gore, but it's all shown to be special effects, fake blood and makeup. We also witness some arguments and tense moments between mother and daughter.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Emily lets an "f-bomb" slip in an unguarded moment while speaking to her mother. Otherwise, language is infrequent. Pre-teens say "butt," "Oh God" (and "Oh my God"), "dick," and "nuts," while adults say "bugger" (heard in Undead), "vagina," and "anus." The word "bitch" appears in print, as part of a storyboard drawing for the zombie movie.

Consumerism

We see images from movies, or hear them mentioned by name, often. They include The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Shaun of the Dead, Undead, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Batman Begins, The Muppet Movie, etc. Target and Home Depot are mentioned. One pre-teen has tickets to see "Riverdance." Emily edits her movie on an Apple, using iMovie.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary about a 12-year-old girl who writes and directs her own feature-length zombie movie explores the two-year movie-making process, including ups and downs, triumphs, arguments, and failures. Remarkably, Emily sticks with it and finishes, making her a great role model for tweens and teens. The movie includes some harsh language, including one "f--k," and some violent, gory scenes, mostly in clips from an Australian zombie movie that inspired Emily. (Note: the DVD includes Emily's finished movie, Pathogen.)

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

After seeing The Lord of the Rings and an Australian zombie movie, Undead, 12-year-old Austin, Texas, resident Emily Hagins writes a screenplay for a feature-length zombie movie, Pathogen, and sets out to film it herself. She enlists her mother Megan as sound recordist and special effects person, and several local kids as actors. The movie starts shooting on weekends and school holidays, but the production gets pushed back to one blow-out week during summer vacation. Despite the many locations, actors, and effects shots, as well as arguments with her stressed-out mother, Emily perseveres. Will she get sick of her zombie movie, or will she eventually finish it and see it projected on a big screen?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The three directors behind this remarkable documentary plant themselves like flies-on-the-wall and capture a very intimate atmosphere; the subjects appear to be comfortable and natural at all times, including Emily's mother and father. Emily especially comes across as adorable and nerdy, slightly shy and a bit naïve (she forgets to call "cut" after her first take).

Moreover, the material is expertly shaped to build a dramatic and emotional story. The movie shoot is boring, frustrating, and fraught with unforeseen troubles, and yet it has the occasional moments of triumph and excitement. The movie also wisely settles its focus on the loving, but tense relationship between Emily and her mom Megan during the shoot. Of course, there's little doubt in the viewer's mind that Emily will actually finish her movie, but that doesn't make her feat any less remarkable. It's an inspiration for all teens that are interested in making movies.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the gore and violence shown involving zombies. Since this is not a traditional horror movie, how did these scenes affect you? How did seeing the makeup, special effects, and fake blood change (or not change) the impact of these images?

  • How would you describe Emily's relationship with her mother? Are they respectful of one another? Do they support one another? What about when they're arguing or angry?

  • How unusual is it for a 12-to-14-year-old to finish the movie after such a long time? How many other young people that age would have given up? What qualities does Emily have that would push her to do so? Were her rewards worth the struggle?

  • Does Emily seem disturbed or upset from watching or making horror movies? What are the possible effects on someone so young?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 16, 2009
DVD release date:November 9, 2010
Cast:Emily Hagins, Harry Knowles, Megan Hagins
Directors:Aaron Marshall, Erik Mauck, Justin Johnson
Studio:R-Squared Films
Genre:Documentary
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Zombie Girl: The Movie was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent of a 2 and 3 year old Written byMommaOfTwoo July 25, 2014
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

zombie girl

It's nice to see a young person reaching for their goal.
Parent of a 16 year old Written bykalicwe January 22, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Good for young teens and older.

This is a film about a real girl, her real family, and a real story of how much work, time, money, and sheer perserverance it takes to achieve a goal. She does it, no matter what. Her parents remind us of how critically important is our support for all our kids dreams. Emily is an inspiration to kids who may be wavering about finishing a project that is taking them a long time to accomplish.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models

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