Story

The Darkside is a collection of ghost stories told by indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Some of Australia’s well-known actors, including Bryan Brown and Deborah Mailman, narrate the stories.

The stories are about out-of-body experiences; people who see 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 loses several members of her family after playing with a Ouija board; and a girl who hears her grandmother’s voice telling her that her niece is about to die.

Romaine Moreton tells a particularly moving story. 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 anthropological scientists physically studying Aboriginal people, measuring their heads and doing other bizarre investigations. Many indigenous peoples’ bodies were dissected at the Institute, and their skeletons were left in the basement. This is also shown on archival footage. Moreton believes that they are not at rest and need to be returned to country.

Themes

Death; ghosts; the supernatural

Violence

None of concern

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

There is little visually scary material in The Darkside. Children in this age group are likely to be bored by the movie. Children closer to five years who listen to the stories might be disturbed by some of the things they hear. 

From 5-8

Children in this age group could be scared by the stories in this movie. For example, there are stories about:

  • members of a family who all burn to death in a house fire
  • a young man who commits suicide. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the stories, including the story about the woman who plays with the Ouija board. She tells how, afterwards, her daughter, a sister and a man’s wife all died, and several others went mad. 

Over 13

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

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Darkside shows some use of substances, including people drinking in a pub. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

The Darkside has some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Darkside is a docudrama filmed in very simple settings such as at a bedside, on a veranda, around a campfire and at the beach. The stories are powerful and well told but the movie doesn’t really flow well, and it becomes quite boring, particularly for children.

The movie’s appeal will depend on your own beliefs about the afterlife. The stories are actually quite creepy, particularly because they have been real experiences for these people. This makes the movie 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 give you the chance to talk with your children about your personal and family attitudes to and beliefs about ghosts and life after death.