Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dark Side, The

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Not recommended under 15 (Disturbing themes and lack of interest for younger children)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dark Side, The
  • a review of Dark Side, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 December 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended under 15 due to disturbing themes and lack of interest for younger children

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dark Side, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Darkside is a collection of ghost stories told by indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The stories are narrated by some of Australia’s well-known actors, including Bryan Brown and Deborah Mailman, and are powerfully told. The stories include: out of body experiences; seeing children and relatives who aren’t there; a woman who sees an old wrinkled, legless woman crawling around the walls of her bedroom; a woman who had lost several members of her family after playing with a Ouija board; and a girl who heard her grandmother’s voice telling her that her niece was about to die.

A particularly moving story is told by Romaine Moreton. While researching at the National Film and Sound Archive she discovered that the building used to be the Australian Institute of Anatomy. Her story is illustrated with archival footage of Aboriginal people being physically studied by anthropological scientists, having their heads’ measured and other bizarre investigations. Many indigenous peoples’ bodies were dissected there for examination and their skeletons were left there in the basement (also shown on archival footage). Moreton believes that they are not at rest and need to be returned to the country.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death; ghosts; the supernatural

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

None of concern

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There is little visually scary material, and children in this age group are likely to be bored by the film, but children closer to 5 who listen to the stories may be disturbed by some of what they hear.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group could be scared by the stories in this movie including reference to a family which were all burnt to death in a house fire and a young man who committed suicide.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the stories told, including:

  • The woman who played with the Ouija board tells how afterwards her daughter, a sister, and a man’s wife all died and several others went mad.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the stories in this film

Use of substances

Drinking in a pub

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh my God
  • arse

In a nutshell

The Dark Side is a docu-drama filmed in very simple settings such as at a bedside, on a verandah, around a campfire and at the beach. The stories are powerful and well told but the movie doesn’t really flow well and may be quite boring for children. Its appeal will also depend on the viewer’s own belief in the after-life. The stories are actually quite creepy, particularly because they have been real experiences for these people. This makes the film unsuitable for children and young people.

The main message from this movie is that supernatural experiences are very frightening for most people.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes to, and their own beliefs about, ghosts and life after death.

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