Teenager, Dawn Cottrell (Kimberlee Peterson - The Last Man on Planet Earth) is having a tough time; she is picked on by other kids at school, her boyfriend only wants to have sex with her, her father is weak and not very good at being a dad whilst her mum is controlling and oblivious to the fact. It is why Dawn has a secret; in times of stress she hides away and cuts herself, except when she accidentally goes too far and her shirt ends up blood soaked it is spotted by a teacher who calls in her parents. But they just don't understand what is going on as they can't see that they are part of the problem. Fortunately through a friend Dawn meets Dr. Parella (Rhea Perlman - A Tale of Two Bunnies) who understands what Dawn is going through and why she chooses to cut herself.
Any movie which attempts to cover an issue be it anorexia or as in the case of "Secret Cutting" self harm deserves some praise just for highlighting the issue. Unfortunately a lot of these movies never manage to capture the issue fully and so can end up not completely realistic which is how "Secret Cutting", which is also known as "Painful Secrets" ends up. In fairness for a movie to cover something as serious as self harm in a realistic manner it needs to be much longer than this and so all this can do is highlight certain things, certain aspects of the condition and how people react around it.
So what do I mean? Well for example all of a sudden Dawn's mother decides to hide every sharp object in the house, including the cutlery knives, unaware that all she is achieving is to make Dawn want to cut herself again to gain that aspect of control she feels she is lacking. There are more and unfortunately "Secret Cutting" ends up becoming a series of statements which then feel forced because they end up impact points. Not only that we also have stereotypes which are forced and so we have Dawn's father who is more concerned with how the self harm will affect her future opportunities rather than being concerned with how his daughter is right now.
What this means is that "Secret Cutting" becomes a movie more for adults who might watch this as they are confronted with the issue of their own child's self harm and want help. And it might open their eyes to certain things to look out for whilst also giving them the hope that things will work out. But if someone who self harmed watch it they might find it weak and forced, failing to really cover the issue with the level of depth which they can relate to. Although at times it gets it right especially when it comes to Dawn's younger brother who hates how everything now revolves around his sister and her problem in their home.
What this all boils down to is that "Secret Cutting" should work for some audiences as a way of making them aware of self harm but for those who watch with experience of self harm may find it forced and little more than a series of statements which fail to fully get across why people self harm.