Dark Cloud parents guide

Dark Cloud Parent Guide

A documentary that's too brief to dig deeply into its subject, this still provides a useful introduction.

Overall A

CIFF: A documentary exploring the ongoing problem of cyberbullying in the lives of young people, and what we can do about it.

Release date September 26, 2020

Violence B
Sexual Content B
Profanity A
Substance Use A

Why is Dark Cloud rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Dark Cloud Not Rated

Run Time: 45 minutes

Parent Movie Review

In 2009, a 12 year old Canadian named Amanda Todd started frequenting chat rooms as a way to meet people online. She was persuaded to show her breasts to one man who later blackmailed her and began circulating the photo online. Years of bullying and spiraling depression followed, resulting in Amanda’s suicide in 2012. Dark Cloud tells this story from the perspective of Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother and an advocate for victims of cyber bullying. The documentary also features interviews with experts and discussions of how the culture around bullying has changed in recent years.

As documentaries go, this one moves pretty quickly – anything under an hour is going to struggle to take a serious look at its subject matter, and that’s the biggest problem for Dark Cloud. Cyberbullying is a serious issue, and while the film acknowledges that, you don’t get much more than a surface level discussion. I doubt that represents the limits of the filmmakers’ knowledge or interest. I suspect this is what happens when you try to make a 45 minute documentary. It’s all about trade-offs: this movie is brief enough to show in a single class period but it’s too short to dig deeply in its subject.

In fact, Dark Cloud feels like it was designed for one of those school assemblies about bullying we all attended at some point. You know, the kind of thing where everyone sits down in the gym for an hour and a half, some very earnest people come and encourage everyone to be kinder, and on the way out you see some kid getting pushed into the bleachers anyway. These productions really play to empathy and emotion – two things unlikely to actually reach bullies. You certainly could show this documentary in school, since it is almost completely lacking in any objectionable content. The subject matter is serious, but it’s handled delicately.

Where I think this will be most helpful is in educating parents who grew up in a time before social media and are completely unfamiliar with the issue. Carol Todd’s story is certainly a wake-up call for anyone who is unaware of the world of cyber-bullying, and the film provides some good advice and resources for people who need to reach out. If this is an issue you care about (which you should) this short film is a good starting point. Just don’t expect some deep analysis or discussion. There just isn’t enough space to do anything other than deal with the broad strokes of the issue head on – no time to dig around the sides or shadows.

Directed by Matt Embry and Holly Dupej. Starring Carol Todd. Running time: 45 minutes. Theatrical release September 26, 2020. Updated

Dark Cloud
Rating & Content Info

Why is Dark Cloud rated Not Rated? Dark Cloud is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: There are descriptions of physical bullying. There are several brief references to self-harm and suicide.
Sexual Content: There are references to sexual extortion and blackmail.
Profanity: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.

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Dark Cloud Parents' Guide

How has bullying changed since you were a kid? What can you do to help others prevent bullying? What do you think causes people to become bullies? How can schools better handle the problem? What do you think parents can do? What would the consequences of your solutions be?

For more about Amanda Todd and the issue of cyberbullying, you can check out these links.

Amanda Todd Legacy Society

The New York Times: The Story of Amanda Todd

YouTube: Amanda Todd. My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm

Bullying Canada. Get help

Healthy Children. Cyberbullying

Loved this movie? Try these books…

David Jakubiak’s A Smart Kid’s Guide to Online Bullying will help your kids learn how to recognize and deal with online bullies.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Fictional depictions of bullying can be found in Wonder, The Mighty, and How To Eat Fried Worms.

Two documentaries that raise big questions about social media are The Social Dilemma and Coded Bias.