Australian Council on Children and the Media

Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The

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Not recommended under 11, PG to 15 (Violence, Scary scenes, Supernatural themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The
  • a review of Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 October 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not recommended due to violence, scary and disturbing scenes and supernatural themes.
Children aged 11-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary and disturbing scenes and supernatural themes.
Children over the age of 15 OK without parental guidance

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: Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Supernatural themes and violence, Some frightening scenes
Length 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Fourteen-year-old Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) along with his large family has just moved from America to a quaint English village. Will and his family are invited by Miss Greythorne (Frances Conroy) and Merriman Lyon (Ian McShane) to a Christmas celebration at Miss Greythorne’s manor. Will leaves the celebrations early and goes for a stroll through the manor grounds. While on his stroll Will is chased by two large savage looking dogs and a mysterious horseman, referred to as “The Rider” (Christopher Eccleston), who demands that Will hand over “The Sign” which he unknowingly has on his person. Before events go any further, Miss Greythorne, Merriman Lyon, Mr, Dawson (James Cosmo) and George (Jim Piddock) arrive on the scene confronting The Rider and warding him off. They explain to Will that they are immortals known as the “Old Ones”, who a thousand years prior fought and won a great battle against the forces of evil represented by The Rider. However, following the great battle, the power of the Light was placed into six signs and hidden.
The Old Ones inform Will that he is “The Seeker”, the only one who can find the signs whose combined power will enable him to defeat the Dark. For the next five days Will and the Old Ones travel to different periods in time recovering the signs while doing battle against various minions of The Dark.

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.

Good versus evil; the supernatural

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.

Although blood and actual injuries are not seen, the film contains frequent intimidation and menace towards children, threats and acts of violence towards children and adults, and some battles. Examples include:

  • While in a shopping mall, Will is approached by two male security guards who accuse Will of shoplifting. The guards grab hold of Will and haul him off to a police station-like interview room where Will is left alone with the two Guards. The guards accuse Will of stealing and become very intimidating, threatening and menacing, making statements such as “Children are always the worst.” The guards threaten Will and demand that he hand over the Sign. The guards transform taking on a beast-like appearance with one guard having a clawed hand. The Guards lunge at Will attempting to grab him with one of the guards scratching Will’s neck with his claws. With superhuman strength, Will pushes the guards away causing the guards to crash through a wall. Will runs from the room with the guards in close pursuit, the guards metamorphose into a flock of ravens that chase Will, but Will escapes.
  • Will is chased through forest-like grounds by a dark rider on a horse and two large black ferocious looking dogs. When the rider catches up he kicks Will, causing Will to fall down an embankment. The Rider and dogs approach Will in a threatening and menacing manner, but at this point the four Old Ones step out of the woods confronting The Rider who backs off. The Old Ones carry and array of weapons including a crossbow, a pickaxe-like hammer, a sword hidden inside a cane and a mace.
  • With superhuman strength, Will pushes two of his brothers away, one is hurled through the air to land at the top of a staircase while the other land on the floor.
  • Will, who has a twisted ankle, is visited by The Rider disguised as a doctor. The Rider holds Will’s ankle, causing the entire ankle and foot to turn black with bruising, Will appears to be in severe pain.     
  • A raven crashes through a glass window in an attempt to attack Will and the Old Ones, Miss Greythorne pulls a sword from her cane and slashes the raven in mid air causing the raven to transform into a cloud of feathers.
  • A tidal wave of snakes burst from an old lady, engulfing the Old Ones and pinning them down. A cobra-like snake strikes at Will, but is caught in mid air and tossed away.  
  • In a jealous rage Will uses telekinetic powers to hurl a knife at his brother; the knife misses the brother and spears a doorframe.
  • Unable to cope with a tangle of teenage emotions, Will uses his powers to set trees on fire and to cause a windmill and a car to explode.
  • Will and his sister Gwen are transported through time into the middle of a medieval village war/battle. The battle depicts men fighting and wielding swords and axes (no images of people killed or injured nor is any blood and gore depicted). One man drags a woman along the ground by her hair. One man kicks another man off a bridge. A man throws Will into a lake and then threatens Will’s sister. Will is dragged from the water by his hair and threatened with an axe.
  • Max attacks Will with martial arts kicks and punches. Max hurls Will through a wooden door, attempts to strangle Will and holds a flick knife to Will’s throat. Will uses superhuman strength punching his brother in the face and knocking him unconscious.
  • Mr. Dawson and George are attacked by a flock of ravens. The attack is inferred rather than depicted, but later Dawson is shown wearing a coat covered in holes while it is inferred that George was killed in the attack.
  • Due to a severe storm the entire population of the village camp in Miss Greythorne’s manor house. The Rider uses his powers to freeze the inside of the manor solid, causing icicles to hang from the ceiling. The Rider threatens Will to hand over the Signs or he will hurt those who are dear to him. The Rider then causes spear-like icicles to fall from the ceiling narrowly missing the people below, the Rider then specifically targets Will’s father hurling arrow-like icicles at him, Will pulls his father out of the path of the projectiles. The Rider then uses his powers to cause water to flow up hill and flood the manor causing people to panic and scramble up stairs while others are pulled to safety.
  • The Rider uses his powers to cause Maggie to age to an old woman in a few seconds with Maggie then falling into a flooded room never to be seen alive again.
  • The Rider gains entrance to the Great Hall using his horse in an attempt to trample Will. Merriman jumps onto the back of The Rider’s horse and uses his mace in an attempt to strangle The Rider, but Merriman is sucked into a giant black shadowy vortex. Dawson jumps up out of a pool of water and lunges at The Rider, but Dawson is also sucked into the vortex. Will is sucked into the vortex for a period of time, but returns using his powers to suck the cloud like vortex and The Rider into a glass ball, which Will tossed into a pool of water.

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 the age of five, including the following:

  • The film contains a number of scenes depicting large flocks of ravens that are evil and menacing in appearance. Will appears distressed, scared and threatened by the sight of the birds.
  • While alone with two security guards, Will appears anxious; the guards are very intimidating and threatening. As the lights in the room begin to flicker one of the guards tries to hide his hand, which transforms into a clawed beast-like hand. The eyes of the guards transform into black pools and for a brief instant the face of one of the guards becomes beast-like. Will appears totally terrified of the guards and escapes, with the guards giving chase. The beaks and heads of ravens burst through the guards’ shirtfronts and the guards transform into a flock of ravens that chase Will.
  • The film contains several images of The Rider with dark black smoke-like shadows coming out of his person with the shadows trailing across the landscape and engulfing the planet.
  • Will discovers he has a twin brother, who was abducted from his bed when two weeks old. Will’s mother becomes upset, crying when she tells Will the story of the abduction.  
  • One scene contains images of Will and his twin brother trapped in a small glass globe.
  • At one point Will and the Old Ones are confronted by a grandmotherly lady with a sweet, innocent appearance. But the little old lady’s demeanour suddenly changes with her taking on a threatening, evil demeanour. A snake crawls from behind the old woman and her chest appears to explode, spewing forth hundreds of snakes of all shapes and sizes. The snakes totally cover the Old Ones, crawling across their bodies and faces.
  • Will makes his way to a stone coffin and slides off the lid to reveal the skeletal/mummified remains of one of his ancestors. When a snake attacks Will the skeleton’s arm reaches up grabbing the snake and tossing it aside.
  • During one scene, Will’s brother Max is possessed by The Rider. Max’s voice changes, becoming dark and menacing, and Max both verbally and physically threatens Will.
  • The Rider uses his powers to transform Maggie from a young teenager to an old woman; we see Maggie’s youthful face transform into a wrinkled old woman’s face.
  • To deceive Will, The Rider changes his voice to sound like Will’s mother crying and distressed.

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.

The above-mentioned violent scenes could scare or disturb children under the age of eight.

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.

Children in this age group may also be scared by the above-mentioned violence and disturbing scenes, particularly the scenes where Will is in danger and the frightening transformations.

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 and more sensitive children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • During one scene Will’s brothers tease him about looking at a girl on a bus.
  • One of Will’s brothers infers that Will’s apparent super human strength is the result of puberty

Nudity and sexual activity

The Seeker contains no nudity, but some mild teenage seduction including:

  • Will has a crush on an older teenage girl (Maggie), who starts to date one of Will’s older brothers, which causes some tension and jealousy. During one scene Maggie uses magical seduction to attract and deceive Will. Maggie uses her lips in a seductive manner to magically blow salt into spiral patterns. The camera focuses on Maggie’s full lips as she blows on the salt. 

Use of substances

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

  • During a family dinner Will’s parents drink wine.
  • During one scene Dawson and George bet each other a flagon of ale as to whether or not they are about to battle a dragon. Later the two enter an abandoned tavern to make good on the bet, but are disturbed before they are able to drink their bet.
  • In one scene based around a cockfight inside a tavern, patrons are depicted holding tankards of ale.    

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is a supernatural adventure film adapted from the award-winning books by Susan Cooper. It is targeted at a young adolescent audience. 
The Seeker’s main messages relate to making the right choices, and the ability of good to triumph over evil.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage, endurance and perseverance during trying times
  • family love and support
  • self sacrifice

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss the presence of evil in the world and its potential to be seductive.

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