The scandalous hit movie "Saltburn" premiered on Prime Video during 2023's Christmas period.
Rebecca Schwartz Altholz is one of many viewers who watched the movie with her family.
She says she wouldn't recommend this "unless your family is as weird as mine."
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Rebecca Schwartz Altholz about her experience watching "Saltburn" with her family. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
In hindsight, I would not choose "Saltburn" for a family movie night.
One night, during a family trip to Mexico between Christmas and New Year's Day, we were looking for something to do together when my older sister, Sarah, suggested we watch it.
She had watched the film with her friends but wanted to watch it with us to see our reactions. She also hinted that the film may be inappropriate, and she was unsure how our parents would react. She compared it to "Call Me by Your Name."
My family is pretty open, so I thought we could handle it. Me, my husband, my mom, my dad, my two sisters, and my younger sister's partner turned the lights off and gathered around the TV in our Airbnb with some blankets.
I sat next to my parents to glimpse their reactions, but they weren't the only people astonished after seeing "Saltburn."
No one in my family considered leaving the room, even though we all were uncomfortable
I don't think anyone was bored at any point while we watched "Saltburn." The film starts relatively normally: a boy named Oliver, played by Barry Keoghan, goes to Oxford University, and falls in love with a rich student named Felix, played by Jacob Elordi.
While it is clear that Oliver may be a bit too obsessed with Felix, things only start to take a turn when he spends the summer at Felix's family estate, Saltburn.
Sarah immediately started to record our shock at the scene. My other sister had her hands covering her face, and her boyfriend was cackling. I turned toward my parents and they were just saying that this is all "fucked up."
Later in the film, Oliver has a late-night tryst with Felix's sister Venetia Catton, played by Alison Oliver, and at one point, he sucks her menstrual blood off of his finger.
I wasn't so much fazed by the sexual nature of the scene. I was more baffled as to how we got to this point.
My family then started trading theories about what wild things would happen next. I thought Oliver would sleep with Felix's mom, Elspeth Catton, played by Rosamund Pike, and was so surprised it never happened. They just had so much sexual tension. My dad suggested that Felix and his sister would sleep together, but thankfully, that did not happen either.
Meanwhile, my sister's boyfriend continued to cackle through every uncomfortable scene, which made the room a little less awkward, but at no point did anyone get up and leave. I don't think it even crossed our minds. We were all just glued to the screen, staying for the long haul.
I knew Keoghan's character would do something weird during the funeral scene
I thought, "This is crazy. There's no chance he's really going to do this."
That scene sticks with me because it's not something I've seen in other films or heard of in real life. Oliver is just a sick person.
I don't think I truly understood Oliver's game plan until the end of the movie.
In the final scene, Oliver reveals to the last living member of the Catton family, Elspeth, that he was after her family's fortune. He then murders her and celebrates his victory by dancing around the house completely naked.
I was pretty surprised by Oliver's complete nudity because very few films show fully naked men. But we were all too shell-shocked to react expressively to it. Instead, we were trying to process what we'd just watched.
I would be hesitant to watch this film with my in-laws
Once the movie ended, Sarah asked what we thought.
"You're sick. You have a sick mind that you wanted to show it to us," my mother said. I found this funny in hindsight because she has since persuaded her friends to watch the movie, and they were also disgusted.
Meanwhile, my father said he'd had enough and went to sleep before we could traumatize him any further. The rest of us began discussing the plot since we were all confused.
I think everyone should watch "Saltburn," but I would skip putting it on at your next movie night unless your family is as weird as mine. I definitely wouldn't have agreed to watch this with my in-laws.
And to the producers, maybe put a warning at the beginning of the film next time.
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