Painful Secrets, aka Secret Cutting, is about a teenager in trouble. She isn't happy with her family life and has few friends. So, as you have probably guessed from the alternate title, she cuts herself.
The movie opens with Dawn presenting an arts project to the evil popular clique. Dawn wants to build the homecoming throne. Her pitch: wolves. The popular girls make fun of her but give her the job anyways. Why Dawn wants to work with these people, who knows? Only one student defends Dawn. Pothead Kirsten tells the popular girl to do her best Princess Diana wave when presented with the homecoming tiara.
"Bitch! Don't make fun of Princess Di!"
Oh, this movie is going to be good.
Dawn sneaks away to a bathroom stall, takes out an exacto knife, and starts doing the crazy person rock.
We see why Dawn is so crazy when we meet her family. The obnoxious and rude younger brother is to be expected. The father who works too much and spends his free time watching football and/or cutting glass (seriously) is par for the course. The mother? Oh, the mother. Here's a hint to how crazy the mom is: She's played by Sean Young.
When Dawn tells her mom about her new high school drop-out boyfriend, the Mom, Joyce, warns her that all he's interested is sex. Again, par for the course. Then she points out high school passion is better than getting married for the right reasons and then never getting boned by her husband. To Lifetime's credit, they've made it very clear how terrible Dawn's home life is. I'd cut myself too.
Dawn's relationship with her boyfriend is just as disastrous. He, obviously, is only interested in sex. She isn't into that. The obvious compromise is to have her blow him. So it is written, so it shall be done. They end up boning later anyways.
After another day of being picked on by the Mean Girls, Dawn runs off to the school's basement for some quick cutting actions. She is discovered by Pothead Kirsten. A friendship begins to blossom?
Unfortunately for Dawn, she's also discovered by her math teacher. Some blood from a cut leaked through her shirt. So now the parents are aware of the situation. Joyce reacts the only way she knows how. She accuses everyone of blaming her (they aren't) and she deflects that imagined blame right back at her poor husband. Joyce's efforts to talk this over with Dawn go about as well as one could imagine.
Dawn runs to her boyfriend for emotional support. She doesn't get it. Instead, he literally drags her out of his apartment and tells her he'd only put up with this bullshit if Dawn were prettier. Zing!
I suppose this is the best time to mention my alternate title for the movie: Kimberlee Peterson's Left Eyebrow. Peterson plays the lead, Dawn. She has some fucking crazy eyebrows. They do not match. One looks surprised. The other looks angry. And it is the most distracting thing in the world. Check out the picture on her own website. This is her site! This is the best she could do! And she looks like someone stitched an eyebrow on the wrong part of her head.
Anyways, Dawn keeps cutting away. Her family hides the knives, but that doesn't stop her. In order to hide her crazy, she starts cutting at her bikini line where her parents don't inspect her.
Now, Dawn's shrink knows about these cuts. The shrink knows that with every cut, Dawn is putting her life at risk. But the shrink, who is presented as a saint who truly "gets" cutting, won't have Dawn institutionalized and won't tell any adults that Dawn is cutting at her tummy and pubes. This shrink sucks.
Dawn's family life continues to go downhill. It even gets to the point where her dad demands that she cut him so that he can know what she feels. When Dawn refuses, Dad tells her that he is only with Joyce for the kids. Oh. That will make Dawn feel better.
Dawn starts freaking out and does her crazy person rock. Obnoxious Younger Brother trashes Dawn's room and blames her for splitting the family apart. Dawn begins her crazy person rock but realizes she can't cut anymore. So she calls up her ex-boyfriend?
I do not like where this is going.
Dawn shows up at the boyfriend's apartment while his band is in the middle of practicing. "You said I could bring a friend, so I brought two." Oh, God. Dawn strips down to her skivvies and allows the band to mock her many, many scars. Then she gets gangbanged.
Dawn wakes up, realizes that sleeping with three men was not the proper course of actions, and starts slicing away at her stomach with a razor blade until she passes out.
The last ten minutes of this movie were truly repulsive. I have no idea why I found it hilarious that a teenage gambling addict had to make a porno with an old married couple but so gross when Dawn slept with three boys under her own volition. Regardless, yucky.
Dawn meets up with Pothead Kirsten at the hospital. She was in a coma for a while after her mother's boyfriend beat her almost to death. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Probably because it wasn't important.
Joyce decides to leave the family alone for a while and that's the end of the movie. Wait. Dawn doesn't get better? She just starts her recovery over? Yay?
Why so high? First, points for allowing Kirsten to have an obviously abusive presence in the house and not having Dawn freak out about it. Seriously. That was like real life and shit. People have terrible problems and people forget about them because those people don't want to talk about their abusive step-father all the god damned time. An appreciated unLifetimey touch.
(Side note: Kristen has the same shrink as Dawn. So this so-called doctor knows about the rampant cutting and knows that Kirsten is in a domestic abuse situation; a situation she is legally required to report to social services. And she's the hero of the story?)
Also, legitimate credit for having the movie skeeve me out so much. It made me feel fidgety and gross.
HEY! IT'S THAT GUY!: 2
Sean Young is crazy, but she's hardly famous. As for the rest of the cast, the shrink is that lady who is boning Danny DeVito. And the dad is played by a guy I only recognize from an X-Files episode. (Terri and I are about to finish Season 3.)
Despite the unLifetimey way the film treats Kirsten's abuse, the rest of the movie is way off the rails. Teenage girls are either bitches or in peril. Dudes just want to avoid their wife or gang-fuck a traumatized girl. And Sean Young just wants to act all Sean Young.
GRAND TOTAL: 24
The film's mediocre score is only a tip of the hat for effectively grossing me out. So, if you're normal and don't like getting grossed out, avoid this film.