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The Shack | 2017 | PG-13 | - 1.5.1

After his young daughter is murdered, a man (Sam Worthington) becomes depressed and questions his faith. A strange letter without postage arrives, urging him to return to the shack where the murder happened. He arrives at the shack and steps through a door to a supernatural realm. Also with Octavia Spencer, Graham Greene, Radha Mitchell, Aviv Alush, Sumire Matsubara and Alice Braga. Directed by Stuart Hazeldine. [2:12]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - A man and a woman embrace three times and they kiss very quickly once.
 Three women wear tops that reveal cleavage and we see the top of one bra briefly.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - Police take a man through woods at night to an abandoned shack where his young daughter was taken and we see her dress on a floor with a large dark bloodstain on the skirt and three blood stains on the floor (the man cries and screams); we hear that the girl was abducted and murdered by the serial killer of five other young girls.
 A man screams at and beats his wife in the face and chest, and then slaps and knocks down a young boy who develops a scraped bruise on one cheek. A man takes a boy to a fallen log in the rain and forces him to bend over it, then beats the boy's behind with a belt below the screen three times as the boy repeats, "Faithful is the Lord" three times. A boy pours strychnine into a whiskey bottle and we later hear that his father died of poisoning. A young boy is shown being punched and slapped by his abusive father.
 A teenage girl and a preteen boy play in a canoe until it overturns and almost drowns the boy; their father jumps into the lake and frees the boy from some webbing under the canoe, bring the boy to the dock and does CPR until the boy coughs up water and recovers; the family's youngest daughter goes missing and the father gasps in panic. A man falls onto his back on the icy street outside his house and is knocked out briefly; he comes to, touches the back of his head and his fingers come away bloody.
 Two scenes show a driver missing a stop sign and a large semi-truck honking and rushing through the intersection; the first scene shows the first man screeching brakes and sliding to a stop beyond the intersection; the second scene goes black and the man wakes up in a hospital room with an IV in his arm, a scratch on his nose and cuts on the back of one hand as a friend tells him that he was unconscious for two days (a woman and a teen girl enter the room and both cry briefly).
 A man in a boat on a lake sees the face of his struggling son under water and reaches out, pulling his hand back, covered with sludge; black water fills the boat and it begins sinking until another man walks on water and the boat becomes dry. A man having a dream levitates out of bed and falls unharmed onto the floor of a forest where he sees a man rush away with the first man's young daughter as she screams and he wakes up in bed, sweating.
 A man finds an unstamped letter in his mailbox and no tracks in the snow around it; the letter asks him to meet someone at an abandoned shack, where his daughter was killed, and he takes a handgun and points it around the inside of the shack with a crime scene notice on the door; he throws three wooden chair into the walls, shouting in anger and then points the gun at his face, but a deer looks in the door, stopping him.
 A man takes another man through woods to a cave where they find the body of a young girl (the second man's daughter) wrapped in cloth; they wrap the body in a shroud, the girl's father carries her to a cabin, and then Jesus puts her into a coffin and the father cries as the men bury the coffin in a flower garden; a woman sprinkles tears from a vial on top of the grave and many flowers and a large tree grow instantly.
 A man meets another man in a snowy forest, points a gun at him, lowers it and the second man leads him on a path that changes abruptly to green trees and flowers in sunshine; the first man enters a log cabin, meeting God in the shape of a woman who says the other man is her son (Jesus) and another woman says that she is the Holy Spirit. A man climbs up to a cliff and puts his hand through a rock wall where behind the wall, on a stone throne, the man finds a woman portraying God's wisdom; they argue and she becomes tearful, she demands he choose from his two children for one to die and go to hell and he says that he cannot do it, and she should take him instead. A woman leads a man to a thick and tangled garden of flowers and vines where they cut vines and stalks with sickles and dig a hole together to aerate roots and in an aerial view, it looks like a dug grave. A woman does a mind meld with a man, who receives a vision of the outlines of many people glowing in multicolor lights in a nighttime field and one figure approaches and glows gold; the man walks out to meet the figure and finds his dead father.
 A man tells another man about a killer, "I want to hurt him. I want you to hurt him," and the second man insists that forgiveness is better. A man tells a story to children about an Indian princess who saw that sickness spread through the tribe; she climbed to the top of a cliff and jumped off in sacrifice and the tribe became well after her death. A young girl asks, "Why is God so mean, making the Princess and Jesus both die?" and the man has no answer. We hear the voice of a young girl screaming.
 A flashback shows a coffin lid closing as mourners are gathered and hang their heads. A man sees that three people all have nail marks of the Crucifixion on their inner wrists. A man has a vision in which his dead daughter plays with other children in a sunny field with Jesus.
 A man tries to jump into a lake and another man stops him, later giving him a rowboat.
 A church stained-glass window depicts God in a red robe with white hair and long white beard, looking like Santa Claus. A stained-glass window shows a nail pointing at a wrist. A man tells God about thinking he had white hair and beard and God replies, "I think that's Santa."


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LANGUAGE 1 - 5 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, nuts, idiot, sick monster, deviant monster, coward), 2 religious exclamations (Oh My God, Oh God).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A woman holds a tap root up with a sprig of poisonous Lily of the Valley and says that together they have healing properties, and a man has a vase of Lily of the Valley on the nightstand in a hospital room. A man holds a large bottle of either beer or whiskey (he does not drink), a man holds a beverage can and we cannot see what the contents are, and a boy tells a preacher that his father beats his mother when he is drunk.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Good and evil, Christianity, the afterlife, heaven and hell, child abduction, murder, serial killers, grief, guilt, shame, doubt, anger, revenge, justification, judgment, family, friends, faith, love, trust, courage, sacrifice, forgiveness, acceptance, healing, supernatural experiences, symbolism of butterflies as human spirits and rebirth and ladybugs as rebirth.

MESSAGE - People can hear from God in unique ways to help them through tragedy.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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