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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a Movie Review

Updated on January 8, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

Introduction

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a 2016 movie based on a book of the same name. It is an adaptation of a dark children’s book by Tim Burton. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this horror movie?

Strengths of the Movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The movie “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” has several positive messages. One is a call to become empowered by acting to defend yourself instead of cowering in fear and worrying if the slaughter will come. Another message is that those who can should defend the weaker among us. A third is that those that don’t fit into society are valuable in their own right and can live together, even when they have trouble living in the larger society; it is a call for tolerance.

The movie has amazing special effects, and they don’t get used to make up for a flat plot.

Samuel L. Jackson does a great job as the main bad guy. The monsters that are his companions are horrifying in their own right.

The movie has strong character development for the central character and main adolescent secondary characters as well.

Tamara Wilhite reads, writes and reviews science fiction and horror.
Tamara Wilhite reads, writes and reviews science fiction and horror. | Source

Cons of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The 2012 book on which the 2016 movie is based was a top selling children’s chapter book. One of the problems with bringing horrific scenes to the big screen is that it becomes more visceral, more terrifying and worse for those who might read it and otherwise deal with it. The monsters in this movie want to eat the eyes of Peculiar children to regain their human form. The movie has scenes of children’s eyes being eaten, several corpses minus their eyes (including a dead child) and one gruesome scene of a monster ripping someone’s eyes out. The movie is rated PG-13 for this reason, and I would say it is a hard PG-13 – don’t bring younger children even if they’ve read and appreciated the books. The maimings are that gruesome.

This is on top of bringing inanimate objects to life to fight to the death and reanimating a dead child briefly. Ironically, the battle scenes are near PG.

The time loop logic isn’t well explained in the movie. This is better explained in the book, as are many details.

Observations

The weak scenes at the start of the movie involving the psychiatrist for counseling of Jake after the loss of a family member give the movie a slow start. This movie shows an excessive reliance on psychiatrists for every type of advice

The movie is rather different from the “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” book; the book is also the start of a series.

Asa Butterfield does a better job acting in this movie than “Ender’s Game”. The other characters, though, have much more depth. Eva Green, for example, has an inhuman nature in the movie that makes her seem like a bird in human form. The movie also gives the older “peculiar” teens more depth and backstory than the younger ones who are reduced to their particular oddities.

If you want a dark children’s movie with a theme of family and self-determination, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a better choice, safe for children over ten but not younger due to the emotional horror for children at the concept of losing one’s parents.

Summary

If you have a young teen who enjoys dark coming of age stories akin to Harry Potter, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is an excellent movie. It is unsuitable, though, for anyone younger due to repeated scenes with depictions of horror and death.

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