Sightless parents guide

Sightless Parent Guide

This horror flick has an interesting premise and clever execution, but using disability as a source of horror is morally questionable.

Overall C

Netflix: Ellen was blinded in a brutal attack, and has withdrawn to acclimate to her new non-visual reality. But as she spends more time alone, unable to see, she becomes convinced that her attacker is back to finish the job - and no one will believe her.

Release date January 20, 2021

Violence C
Sexual Content A-
Profanity C-
Substance Use B-

Why is Sightless rated TV-14? The MPAA rated Sightless TV-14

Run Time: 89 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Ellen (Madelaine Petsch) is struggling. Her ex-husband is in prison for at least 15 years after defrauding basically everyone they know, leaving her alone and friendless. Her isolation only deepens when an assault leaves her completely blind. Her brother, who is currently in Japan on business, arranges for her to have at-home care in a new apartment with an expert in helping the recently disabled – Clayton (Alexander Koch). But without her sight, Ellen becomes increasingly fearful. Her other senses are highly tuned, and the trauma that resulted from the attack triggers paranoia. Nightmares and hallucinations lead her to doubt everything she thinks she knows – and some things just aren’t stacking up.

This is an interesting premise for a horror movie, and parts of it are cleverly executed. Sightless experiments with an “unreliable narrator” in that what you see on screen isn’t what actually happens: it’s what Ellen thinks is happening. The disconnect between the two creates a space for the filmmakers to slip in some interesting scares, and for the plot to confront the audience with their own expectations.

That being said, this is a remarkably clean horror film. Cussing is limited to one extreme profanity and infrequent mild swearing, and the only sexual content is someone taking a shower – with no explicit nudity. Your big concerns here are going to be some (frankly understandable) stress-related drinking and some violence. Horror movies tend to go all-out on the gore, but this one actually has less violence than the average Marvel superhero flick. It’s treated more seriously, but no one’s getting thwacked with a massive hammer or disintegrated by a laser. Violent scenes mainly consist of small physical altercations, limited to hitting, grabbing, and of course, throwing chemicals which blind people. I don’t know that I’d recommend this for a general audience, but it’s short and original enough that it might be worth watching for genre fans. For me personally? Find something a little more polished and a little less morally troubling.

But Sightless is hardly a brave new frontier in horror films. I dislike horror movies that rely on disabilities as a plot point. It neglects the fact that millions of people cope just fine with a variety of conditions that cause them to live life differently; that not every “disability” is actually life-destroying. Films like this leave the impression that the real “scare” is just something that (in the real world) plenty of people can live and thrive with and I don’t like that the horror is focused on the disability itself. This just doesn’t sit well with me.

Directed by Cooper Karl. Starring Deniz Akdeniz, Madelaine Petsch, and Alexander Koch. Running time: 89 minutes. Theatrical release January 20, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Sightless

Rating & Content Info

Why is Sightless rated TV-14? Sightless is rated TV-14 by the MPAA

Violence: Various individuals are beaten, cut, bludgeoned, tasered, and blinded with chemicals. There is also an unsuccessful suicide attempt which is shown twice and which results in no serious injury.
Sexual Content: A female character is shown naked from the shoulders up in the shower in a non-sexual context.
Profanity: There is one use of extreme profanity and occasional minor cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are shown drinking and smoking cigarettes.

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Sightless Parents' Guide

Ellen’s life changes forever when she is blinded. Do you know anybody with a serious disability? What strategies do they use the work around it? What can you do to be more educated on these issues? What kind of policies would improve life for those who live with these challenges?

What is Lana’s relationship like? How does it change through the film? What do her choices say about her character? What do they say about her life?

Ellen has trouble telling between reality and trauma-induced nightmares. What are some other symptoms of PTSD? What are the causes? What kind of resources are available for individuals struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Another recent film which plays with similar themes is Invisible Man. Horror films which center around sensory deprivation and blindness include Don’t Breathe and Bird Box.

Disability receives more nuanced treatment in The Upside, Music Within, Breathe, Father Soldier Son, and the documentary Crip Camp.