Monday, March 27, 2023

Now Sissy That Kill


Sometimes you hear enough positive word of mouth about a film that otherwise doesn't seem like your thing that you say, "hey, let's give it a try." 

Then you watch it and want to put cheese in all of those mouths because they sure were right. 

Quick Plot: Young Cecelia is a successful Instagram influencer (Elon Mask doesn't just sponsor just anybody!) loaded with internal insecurity, most of it stemming from a deeply hurtful break with her best friend Emma back in their tween years. When she randomly bumps into a grown and engaged Emma while buying tampons (isn't that always the case?) Cecelia lets herself feel a tinge of peace. Maybe they can resume their friendship after all!

This being a genre movie airing on Shudder, it's not exactly the case. Cecelia, formerly known as Sissy and now STILL known that way because people are terrible, takes Emma up on a spur of the moment invitation to her bachelorette weekend glamping in the wilderness. Things are going acceptably awkward until Cecelia discovers who's hosting: it's Alex, the same girl who drove a wedge in her friendship with Emma all those years ago.

Once a mean girl, always a mean girl. Alex is the worst, even if she's spent the last 12 years sporting a Cecilia-induced facial scar. THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR BEING MEAN, ALEX.

It should be said: I am 100% Team Cecelia.

So stop calling her Sissy.

Written and directed by the team of Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow (the latter also plays Emma), Sissy, on paper, isn't that new a story. Heck, 85% of '80s slashers stemmed from the same plot seed of "bullied teenager grows up and seeks revenge". But there's something about Sissy so fresh and current that it absolutely nails the assignment in ways that positively thrilled me.

Influencer horror has become as ubiquitous today as found footage ghost hunting was a decade earlier. It's an easy target ideal for the genre for a lot of reasons: it builds in a certain air of unlikability around its characters, it justifies their appearances as always being on for the camera, gives clear motivation to bad decisions, and so on. But most movies centered on this industry don't seem to have much more reason to explore it beyond that. What's great about Sissy is that it doesn't just toss in the profession as a joke: it engages with it directly, first allowing the audience to draw its own conclusions, then letting characters we're getting to know slam down their own hot takes in such a way that we become defensive.

As Cecelia, Aisha Dee oozes a kind of desperate, sweet need for validation that's impossible not to grasp. Even as we watch events unfold knowing there's more to her story than one-sided bullying, we simply can't not root for Cecelia to triumph. There's a moment where Alex is a few seconds away from uploading a video that will destroy Cecelia's life. I have never found myself wishing for a bad network connection with more urgency. 

High Points
I love a good death-by-falling-off-a-rocky-rigid-hill, and Sissy packs a DOOZY. There's also a uniquely shot car accident reveal that does a fine job toying with our perception. THIS MOVIE LOOKS GREAT IS MY POINT OKAY

Low Points
You know what? Nothing. I'm not here to say Sissy is perfection or Sight & Sound's new #1, but it's so clear-headed about what it wants to explore and does so with perfect style that I have nothing to complain about

Lessons Learned
Having a fresh face makes it easier to connect with your body

Never wear a new shirt to a karaoke party

As we learned from another thriller about an unstable woman with a dangerously obsessive personality, use extreme caution in situations that include an oversized and extremely pointy gem rock

Is That a Reference?
With her long blond braids and out-of-time dress, young Emma bears a STRIKING resemblance to a similarly named titular character in an Australian film, and I want to believe this was fully intentional

As you might have guessed, I ADORED this movie. Find it on Shudder. 

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