Out this weekend, the new film Venom, is, in theory, an origin-story, for Spider-Man’s nemesis of the same name. Surprisingly, the film was given a PG-13 rating when an R was expected, which puts parents who have Marvel-loving and Spider-Man-loving kids in a weird position. Should you let your kids see this one? Despite the PG-13 rating, the answer is probably no.
Starring Tom Hardy, Venom follows a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist who tries to bring down Life Foundation—the equivalent of SpaceX with more alien conspiracies—and accidentally runs away with their parasitic alien life-form inside him instead. As parents already know, PG-13 movies can vary wildly in how scary they can be, but this is already a freakier premise than other Marvel installments like Black Panther or Infinity War.
If your child isn’t already accustomed to seeing scary movies or films like Predator, you should consider skipping this one. The first half of Venom features Life Foundation pulling homeless people off the street, getting them to sign waivers, using them as guinea pigs for the symbiotes and then watching them die slowly while the symbiote rejects them. It’s dark, but if you’re familiar with Venom’s origin story you already knew that. The first half of the movie is a pretty hard PG-13. It’s a little bit more graphic than Star Wars: The Last Jedi, for example.
The film doesn’t quite know what it wants to be and toes the line between serious comic-book movie and campy comedy. The second half of the film is funny, whether that was intentional or not is sometimes unclear. The violence and the body horror is less terrifying because journalist Eddie Brock has bonded with symbiote Venom. They’re mostly on the same page, and Venom actually has a very odd sense of humor. It becomes more a buddy comedy and less of a terrifying alien possession story, but the film leaves corpses in its wake. You can tell that the directors — or the studio — had to edit their way around an R-rating. There are some vague Spider-Man connections, but they’re probably not worthing traumatizing your young kid to get to that point. Unless you’ve got a hardened 13-year-old who already loves Venom, best to consider this PG-13 rating a secret R-rating in disguise.
Venom is in theaters on Friday, October 5th.