Australian Council on Children and the Media

Beautiful Creatures

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scene and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Beautiful Creatures
  • a review of Beautiful Creatures completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 February 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Beautiful Creatures
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Supernatural themes and violence
Length 124 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) is a new girl at school who is immediately disliked by fellow classmates Emily (Zoey Deutch) and Savannah (Tiffany Boone). It is known that Lena is staying with her rich uncle Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), a man feared by the townspeople because they think he is a satanist. Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) however, is drawn to Lena and thinks she is the girl he often sees in his dreams.

Ethan pursues the reluctant Lena, following her to her home where he meets Uncle Macon for the first time. It is made clear that Ethan is not welcome in the house and that he must keep away from Lena. He eventually discovers that Lena is a “Caster” - a witch - and that she is approaching her 16th birthday which is a very important date for female Casters. On this day she will be claimed by good or evil. Lena is sure she will be claimed by evil as it is the family’s curse, but Ethan and Macon are determined she will be claimed by good.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; witchcraft

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is quite a bit of supernatural violence in this movie including:

  • Emily and Tiffany start praying in the classroom to protect them from the ‘evil’ Lena. Lena is upset by this and her rage causes the classroom windows to shatter and explode over all the students.
  • Walking in the woods, Ethan gets trapped by black mesh that creeps over his body, making him collapse.
  • While a policeman is chasing Lena’s cousin Ridley (Emmy Possum) in her car, Ridley causes his eyes to turn red and he then crashes his car.
  • Ridley makes a boy walk towards her across the railway tracks and he is hit by a train.
  • A flashback to the Civil War is shown where a man is killed in battle. He is lying dead on the ground when his distraught wife appears and kisses him on the mouth, making him come back to life. She then realises she has broken the law of the Casters and so kills him again.
  • Macon throws Ethan across the room with a spell.
  • Ethan’s friend Link (Thomas Mann) is manipulated by witchcraft to put a real bullet in his musket which kills Ethan during a mock Civil War battle on Honey Hill.
  • Lena destroys Sarafine (Emma Thompson), with a spell which makes her disintegrate and turn into a tree.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under eight, including the following:

  • The overall setting of this movie is quite spooky with lots of lightning flashes and dark forests, ghost like creatures, the Casters’ eyes glowing yellow and red.
  • The Ravenwood house is very spooky, with doors that open and close by themselves; the interior decoration changes often.
  • People morph into other people.
  • Ethan gives Lena a trinket he found at Honey Hill and when he presses it into her hand he sees a re-enactment of a Civil War battle scene at Honey Hill where a man is killed.
  • Ethan becomes a ghost like creature who can walk through objects and he sees himself as if in a different time zone.
  • Amma (Viola Davis) the town librarian and Ethan’s housekeeper after his Mum dies is a medium who often talks to spirits.
  • Mrs Lincoln changes from an old lady into the evil Sarafine.
  • The final scene is quite dramatic when Lena is ‘claimed’ – lightning strikes everywhere and there’s a whirlwind of destruction.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Mrs Lincoln (Link’s mother) is a typical narrow minded, small town person who holds a rally at the church to stop Lena attending school. She has a long outburst in which she condemns all sorts of people, including homosexuals, as an abomination.
  • Link imitates putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger.
  • Townspeople are seen warding off the lightning by praying and holding up crosses against the evil.
  • Emily and Tiffany hold hands in class and start praying aloud to protect them from Satanists (meaning Lena).
  • Uncle Macon persuades Ethan to tell his life story which will become his future. In this version he ends up hanging himself.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Ridley wears provocative clothing and is able to seduce any man she wants including Ethan’s friend Link.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Lena and Ethan kiss passionately on several occasions and once cause a nearby sign to burst into flame.
  • Ridley and Link kiss passionately and seductively.
  • Link and a girl are shown kissing and making out on a bed (with clothes on).

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Wine drinking at dinner.
  • Beer drinking out of a bottle in the street.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • damn
  • bitch
  • Oh my God
  • bullshit
  • dumb assed
  • pissed off
  • God awful
  • jerk

In a nutshell

Beautiful Creatures is a fantasy romance based on the teen fiction book of the same name.  The frequent violence and some disturbing scenes and themes make it unsuitable for under 13s and more suited to an older teenage audience.

The main messages from this movie are to keep an open mind and to be tolerant of differences in others. It is also about making up your own mind and not being influenced by gossip and hearsay.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • selflessness and sacrifice
  • kindness and tolerance
  • not judging people by appearance

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The narrow-mindedness of some people and how this judges and puts other people down. This movie portrays Christians, in particular, as being very narrow-minded. Is this an unfair portrayal?
  • The movie also portrays the fact that good and evil occur in all walks of life – everyone has the capacity to be good or evil. How do we choose one above the other rather than leaving it to fate?

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