Netflix Movie Review: “Short Term 12”

Nothing says procrastination quite like indulging in a Netflix session. It doesn’t take much for a student’s Google search to stray from the average homework and research questions to a hunt for “must watch” films and TV shows on the ubiquitous movie streaming site. Searches by titles, genres and people are available at any Netflix user’s fingertips. Who could resist?

Those perusing the indie genre section may stumble upon “Short Term 12,” an independent film written and produced by Destin Daniel Cretton, released in August of 2013. The film highlights the lasting psychological effects of child abuse and neglect. It follows 20-something Grace, supervisor of a residential adolescent group home, and her inner struggles. Grace’s boyfriend and co-worker, Mason, plays a major role in the film. Although Mason must also survive as an adult who comes from a broken childhood, Grace’s story is the center of attention.

Grace’s stress and hardships are portrayed from the start of the film after she receives the news of her pregnancy.  She creates an appointment for an abortion before breaking the news to Mason. The unborn baby is constantly on her mind.

Short Term 12, the group home, receives a new resident named Jayden.  When Grace develops a connection with Jayden, her past is stirred up.  Jayden’s harmful habits and current situation seem to be all too much for Grace to handle.  Grace loses control because she feels the pain of her own childhood resurfacing.  She wants nothing but the best for the children she supervises and her protection over them is prominent.

According to child abuse statistics on, there has been a general increase in the abuse and neglect of children since 1999.  As acknowledged in “Short Term 12,” many children are too terrified to report their abuse, so even more cases remain unaccounted for.  The intensity of child abuse and the impact it leaves on its victims is effectively shown throughout the 96 minute film.

Overall, this indie film deserves the 4.3 stars it holds on Netflix. The story could easily find a soft spot in any heart and win over fans of various tastes. One major problem, though, is that it lacks resolution. Viewers are left hanging about what happens to Jayden after she reports the abuse she suffered and what happens to Grace and Mason’s relationship. But the movie redeems itself in that it’s an eye-opener, and the love Grace and the other supervisors have for the adolescents in their care leave the audience warm-hearted and at peace.

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