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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
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.
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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.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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.) To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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.