Australian Council on Children and the Media

Crooked House

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Not recommended under 12; parental guidance to 13 due to violence and scary scenes and themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Crooked House
  • a review of Crooked House completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 May 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes and themes
Children aged 12-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes and themes
Children aged 13 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: Crooked House
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, sexual references and coarse language
Length 115 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in the 1950’s, Crooked House is based on an Agatha Christie novel. Charles Hayward (Max Irons) is a former spy who is now trying to establish himself as a private detective. He gets an unexpected visit one day from Sophia de Haviland (Stefanie Martini), a woman he had a relationship with in Cairo. Sophia asks him to investigate the death of her wealthy and influential grandfather, Aristide Leonides, who was found dead in his bed, poisoned by an intravenous injection, which was meant to contain insulin.

Charles is introduced to the eccentric extended family including Sophia’s parents Magda (Gillian Anderson) and Philip (Julian Sands), her younger sister Josephine (Honor Kneafsey), brother Eustace (Preston Nyman), Aunt Edith de Haviland (Glenn Close), Aristide’s young wife Brenda (Christina Hendricks) and other family members. Charles has to work out who had the best motive and opportunity for killing the old man, while strongly suspecting his former lover.

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.

Murder; crime; love and hate

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.

  • Aristide is shown lying in bed being given the injection which kills him.
  • Edith shoots at moles in the grounds
  • Philip’s brother Roger says he wants to ‘strangle the killer with his bare hands’.
  • Charles grabs a man around the neck and holds him down.
  • Josephine falls out of her tree house and is knocked unconscious. The family suspects someone tried to kill her, but Josephine is shown cutting the rope with a large knife and deliberately falling to the ground.
  • Brenda shouts and spits at Roger.
  • Josephine’s nanny is shown dead on the floor, also poisoned.
  • A car containing two of the characters is driven off the edge of a quarry and explodes in a fireball.

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.

  • The setting of the house is quite dark and eerie.
  • Loud gun shots are heard on two occasions which are quite sudden.
  • A loud thunderclap is heard and lightning and thunder roll over the house.
  • Charles follows Josephine up into the attic. He shines a torch in her face and she screams.
  • The two large Doberman dogs bark at Charles while he is up in the tree house. When he comes down they attack him but he’s not badly hurt (and this is not shown). Aunt Edith says that they are trained combat dogs which could have killed him in an instant if they’d wanted to.

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 may also 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.

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

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.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

  • Josephine tells Charles that Brenda is having an affair with their tutor, Mr Brown. She says they write soppy letters to each other such as ‘Oh darling, I need you more than the air that I breathe’.
  • Eustace mentions that he fancies his grandfather’s wife.
  • Eustace asks Charles if he was screwing Sophia in Cairo.
  • Sophia asks Charles why he doesn’t take Brenda to bed.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Charles and Sophia kiss passionately on a couple of occasions. On one of these occasions, Sophia is in bed covered only by a sheet.
  • Brenda and Brown are seen kissing

Use of substances

  • Aristide was poisoned by an intravenous injection which was meant to contain insulin.
  • There is quite a lot of drinking throughout the movie. Magda says she drank too much claret the night before and now has a bad headache. She proceeds to drink more to cure it.
  • Brenda also drinks a bit and is in a drunken state when she shouts and spits at Roger.
  • Many characters smoke: cigarettes, pipes and cigars

Coarse language

  • Oh God; bloody; bugger off; for Christ’s sake
  • Some name calling: slut; bloody midget; sadistic pig

In a nutshell

Crooked House is a classic Agatha Christie detective mystery. It is set in the 1950’s and is quite slow moving with several twists and turns. The outcome is quite surprising and somewhat disturbing. It is therefore more suited to children over 13, and adults.

The main message from this movie is that people are not always as they appear to be.

Parents may also wish to discuss how we should deal with resentments and hatred before they result in ourselves or others taking extreme measures.

 

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