This Shudder-acquired dark comedy about a bachelorette party from hell is a bloody good time
Sissy is a messy, silly, bloody fun time. It’s a movie built around a stalwart theme (bullying and its ramifications) and an easy target of the moment (social media influencers). It’s a pairing that goes together like alcohol and bachelorette parties (which is the movie’s central event). Writers-directors Hannah Barlow (who also acts in the film) and Kane Senes have concocted a pitch black comedy that will leave viewers cackling as often as they’ll cover their eyes.
Cecilia (Aisha Dee) is the influencer in question here, sporting a follower count of over 200,000 people who eat up Cecilia’s motivational posts. Years removed from the friends and bullying that defined her school days, Cecilia has built a reasonably happy life for herself. She’s a bit of a loner, with a tendency to sit and soak in the likes and adoring comments her posts bring in. Dee layers her performance so that viewers can feel the pain lurking underneath the sunny demeanor. From what we can see, Cecilia’s posts are of the generic optimism that comes off as hucksterism at first blush. But Barlow and Senes dig a little deeper and show that Cecilia needs the positive reinforcement for her own mental well-being. I appreciate the film going there rather than leaving Cecilia as an object of mockery.
But nothing good can last, and a chance run-in with one of her old friends at a drugstore leads to Cecilia appearing at the bachelorette party for Alex (Emily De Margheriti), where she is very much not welcome. These are the people Cecilia grew up with and know her better than anyone. And Alex, well, she knows how to get under Cecilia’s skin better than anyone (referring to her as “Sissy” is one of her main needling tools). The friendly façade quickly fades and gives way to old feuds. The bachelorette party is happening in a very nice cabin in the woods, with plenty of privacy. So when things turn south as they inevitably do, the mayhem pops off pretty much unabated in a series of delightfully gooey, gross, and hilarious ways.
The script works the genre tropes to its advantage. Knowing viewers will automatically be on Cecilia’s side once the bullying element is revealed, Barlow and Senes throw in a wrinkle regarding a schoolyard incident between Cecilia and Alex that complicates things. It may not be enough to redirect the audience’s rooting interests entirely but moving out of black and white morality gives the movie an extra edge.
While the movie has a sharp wit about it, the bloodletting is where it really shines. Barlow and Senes stage their setpieces well, allowing the action (and the results of the action) to be perfectly clear. They aren’t afraid to hold a shot long enough for a joke to hit a couple more punchlines, or to linger on a bloody death.
Sissy is a prickly, entertaining affair. It’s the kind of movie you stumble across on a streamer and are pleasantly surprised by and have fun recommending it to others. So let my recommendation start a chain reaction.