Zombie Girl: The Movie

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Zombie Girl: The Movie Movie Poster Image
Inspirational docu follows a tween horror filmmaker.
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


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

What 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.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 3-year-old Written byMommaOfTwoo July 25, 2014

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

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... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love documentaries and zombies

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