EIFF 2022: ‘Sissy’ Review
Childhood trauma resurfaces with extremely bloody results in this schlocky tale of online influencers and female friendship. Written and directed by Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow, this funny and insightful female led horror had its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this week before being released on Shudder next month.
‘Sissy’ follows Cecilia (Aisha Dee) a popular wellness influencer who projects an image of outer calm and zen, but is actually a mess of anxieties and insecurities following a traumatic incident during her childhood. Her carefully constructed reinvention is put under strain when she runs into her old BFF Emma (co-writer/director Hannah Barlow) whom she hasn’t seen in years. Cecilia is promptly invited to Emma’s joint Hen Do with her fiancé Fran (Lucy Barrett).
Whisked out to a fabulous lodge in the country, Cecilia discovers that one of the other guests at the Hen Do is Alex (Emily De Margheriti), who bullied Cecilia (aka Sissy the Sissy) when they were teenagers. Worse still, Alex harbours an epic grudge due to the aforementioned traumatic incident. A wholesome bachelorette party soon spills over into a brutal bloodbath.
‘Sissy’ takes a while to get going, but once it does it properly goes off, and is a bloody hoot. The horror elements are a lot of fun, and fans of practical gore effects will be delighted. One moment in particular, set up earlier in the film and then paid off in extreme detail will be a definite crowd pleaser.
Away from the horror, the film has interesting things to say about the toxic power of online popularity, and the dopamine effect of likes and notifications. There’s also an insightful commentary on the balancing act of maintaining old friendships alongside new ones, and how the two are never truly comfortable together. Some of the social media satire is a tad broad however, but once we get to the splashy stuff it’s largely forgotten.
Aisha Dee is wonderful as Cecilia, perfectly capturing that particular type of instagram celebrity. This is a great showcase for her, and could propel her onto bigger things. I look forward to seeing what she, and co-directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes do next.