Venom Parent Guide
It's hard to make a head-eating monster into a hero...
Parent Movie Review
“The world has enough heroes.” The official tagline for Venom should tell you most of what you need to know about the latest, highly mediocre offering from Sony. Really leaning into the white male anti-hero prototype, and even taking it to new heights, the film follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) on an incredible journey from a career in journalism to unemployment and then back to journalism – but this time he’s host to an alien parasite. The parasite, which is known as a symbiote (I would call it a monster), gives him superpowers but is threatening to eat him about half the time. As incredible as all that sounds, it’s minor compared to the journey that the monster, named Venom, goes on. That one goes something like this: “I’ve come to destroy Earth. No, wait - I think I’ll save it and betray my species instead.”
Venom feels like it is consciously trying to move the superhero genre beyond Marvel’s usual clean do-goodery. Pushing the PG-13 rating as far as it can go, the movie has over two dozen instances of profanity, including scatological curses, names of deity, and one sexual expletive. Violence is probably an even bigger concern for parents: it is difficult to overstate the disturbing and gruesome nature of the many violent scenes in Venom. There are multiple scenes of people growing tendrils out of their bodies and strangling innocent victims. Other violent scenes include creatures erupting out of other creatures, and aliens stabbing and slashing each other. Characters utter gruesome threats and often fulfill them. Venom and his species feed on humans throughout the movie. The real accomplishment of the film is that we find ourselves liking the funny monster that occasionally eats the heads off people’s shoulders.
Probably not appropriate for younger teens, Venom can be visually startling and outright scary. Moments when Venom is bursting out of Tom Hardy’s face are alarming as are the times when we can see his body being controlled by the monster. But mid to older teens might enjoy this scarier, edgier, anti-hero.
I would be hard pressed to find some real uplifting moments in the film. It does explore what is ethical in the pursuit of truth or science, especially when that imperils others. The highlight of the film is Tom Hardy’s performance, and the low point is definitely Michelle Williams’ hair. Look, it’s hard to make a head-eating monster into a hero. But Venom does its darndest, and Tom Hardy’s performance and humor does most of the legwork.Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Starring Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, and Michelle Williams. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release October 5, 2018. Updated October 6, 2018
Rating & Content Info
Why is Venom rated PG-13? Venom is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language
Violence: A spaceship crashes to earth and dead bodies are visible for a moment before covered. As monsters parasitically move from host to host we see them attack their new hosts and heal severe injuries. A bone is seen sticking out of a woman as she walks down a road. Tendrils erupt out of humans and strangle other people. There are several action / fight sequences throughout the movie that feature, humans fighting other humans, humans fighting a monster/human duo, host and parasite fighting another host and parasite. Most of these sequences aren’t overtly graphic. The monster does bite off three different heads, only one of which is actually visible. You can see the decapitated body, and while it’s unsettling and disturbing, it is not graphic. Guns are used throughout. Many people die as they are sacrificed to the monsters; some of these deaths are more graphic than others. When a monster takes over a host it is unwelcome, creepy, and sometimes violent.
Sexual Content: An engaged couple kiss a couple times. They live together, and in one scene kiss passionately on their way to the bedroom when the door is closed. It then cuts to them asleep together. A monster kisses another character rather passionately as a means of transferring to a new host. One masturbatory comment is implied.
Profanity: Frequent, almost constant, use of moderate profanity including scatological curses and terms of deity. One sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main character drinks at a bar once. Alcohol is mentioned by other characters. There is some casual drinking.
Page last updated October 6, 2018
Venom Parents' Guide
The real monster in the film is actually Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), but he is perceived as a genius, and sees himself as a saviour of mankind. In his efforts to “save” the planet, he sacrifices homeless people to try and come up with a scientific solution. The resolution of the film sees Eddi Brock using Venom to hurt, and occasionally eat, only the “bad people”. How do these two examples of valuing or devaluing of life compare? Why is one instance abominable, and the other laughable heroism? Are they both, in fact, abominable?
Eddie Brock’s greatest strength is also his greatest weakness: his curiosity. It leads him to violate the trust of his own fiance. Venom’s greatest strength, his monster-ness, is also his greatest weakness. In what other characters do we see this double-edged sword of one’s greatest strength being their greatest weakness. Have you seen that in your own life? How does one ensure that their best talents are used for greatness, and not for ill?
Read books about Venom
If your child is interested in anti-heroes, try Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. Suitable for age and up.
Stephenie Meyer’s The Host tells the story of an alien parasite which is influenced by its human host and switches sides against its fellow alien invaders. This is a romantic story which features several scenes of passionate kissing and is suitable for teens.
Related home video titles:
Spiderman 3 - Our first look at Venom as a bad guy with no redeeming qualities.