Venom may be rated PG-13, but given that it's a movie about an alien parasite that forcibly takes over someone's body and then starts threatening to bite heads and limbs off, parents may be wondering if the movie is too scary for younger children.
Though Sony claims that Venom was always intended to have a PG-13 rating, director Ruben Fleischer was uncertain in August whether or not the movie would ultimately earn an R-rating, and stated that he was agreeable to putting together an unrated director's cut. Add to this Fleischer's earlier comments on taking inspiration from the works of body-horror masters John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, and Venom certainly sounds like the kind of movie that could give you nightmares - even without the 40 minutes of deleted scenes.
Ultimately, the MPAA rated Venom PG-13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language." The BBFC rated Venom 15 for "strong threat, horror, violence." Here is a run down of what all that means.
How Violent Is Venom?
Venom's violent content makes up the majority of the reason for its rating. The movie contains a lot of intense action sequences, including falls from great heights and a chase through the streets of San Francisco with explosions. There are numerous fights, with guns and tasers being employed. However, many of the on-screen deaths (particularly those caused by the main villain Riot and the two instances of Venom biting someone's head off) happen very quickly and bloodlessly, and in the case of the bitten-off heads it's unclear what even happened until characters talk about it afterwards. Overall, the violence is fairly standard for a superhero movie.
The Body Horror Elements
The body horror elements of Venom are far more likely to unsettle younger audiences than its action sequences. Though often played for laughs as Eddie Brock argues with the voice in his head, the idea of having your body taken over against your wishes may be uncomfortable for some viewers. There are various sequences of the slimy symbiotes latching on to their victims and crawling across their struggling bodies, forcing their way in. There's a further element of revulsion given some of the things Brock does while under the symbiote's influence, which include biting into a live lobster, eating a chicken out of the garbage, and later throwing up into a clearly unclean toilet. If you have emetophobia, you may want to step out of the theater for a few minutes when Eddie starts raiding his freezer.
Language And Sexual Content
Venom contains several uses of the phrase "Oh s**t" as Eddie Brock is unwillingly dragged from one dangerous situation to the next by the symbiote. There is also one use of the F-word in the lead-up to the final battle. The movie is completely free of nudity and there is no real suggestion of sexual activity apart from one scene where Eddie and his fiancee, Anne Weying, are depicted in bed together, fully-clothed, and a passionate kiss between Eddie and Venom/Anne later in the movie, in which the symbiote transfers from her to him.