‘Sissy’ Movie Review [SXSW 2022]: Bullying and Graphic Revenge in the Influencer Age

Sissy is the type of horror movie that entirely understands what it is and fully embraces its absurdity. Writer/directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes bring audiences into a world that speaks on bullying in what becomes a cat-and-mouse game. Sissy is a fun rollercoaster ride of a slasher flick with a sense of humor.

‘Sissy’ finds Cecilia and Emma reconnecting after many years

'Sissy' Aisha Dee as Cecilia looking on her cell phone looking worried with bare tree branches behind her
Aisha Dee as Cecilia | Steve Arnold ACS / SXSW

Cecilia (Aisha Dee) and Emma (Barlow) were best friends as children with the plan of growing old together. However, Alex (Emily De Margheriti) enters the picture and put a wedge in their friendship as the new “best friend.” After 12 years, the two tween best friends haven’t seen each other until one fateful day in pharmacy where they happen to run into one another.

Emma wants to reconnect with her childhood best friend, but Cecilia appears a bit hesitant. Sissy follows the two characters as they plan to catch up. Emma invites Cecilia to her bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains. However, the weekend quickly turns sour into the worst weekend getaway ever.

Writer/directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes transition from a friendship film to all-out slasher flick

Sissy introduces the friendship between Cecilia and Emma in pieces over the course of the runtime. However, their social interactions only become progressively more fake and charged, similar to the reality television shows that they watch. Alex makes it clear that Cecilia isn’t welcome, as the group begins to bully the outsider of the group.

Cecilia works as a mental health and wellness influencer. She doesn’t have a degree, but she wants to be the change she wants to see in the world. However, Sissy displays her hunger for validation via social media. She deeply craves likes, comments, and follows to unhealthy levels. Cecilia will do anything to keep it.

Childhood friends often make promises to one another. However, some folks bring them into adulthood, giving these statements actual weight. Sissy displays its lead trying to keep her life together, repeating a mantra to remind herself that she is “special,” “loved,” and “trying her best.” Trauma from the past reappears in a movie about friendship that quickly turns into something much darker.

‘Sissy’ is enjoys social commentary along with its bloodshed

'Sissy' Aisha Dee as Cecilia using phone flashlight with blood on her face looking scared
Aisha Dee as Cecilia | Steve Arnold ACS / SXSW

This is the type of film festival slasher movie crowdpleaser that will surely have audiences talking. It puts the group’s despicable behavior on display before beginning to show the consequences of their actions. Barlow and Senes don’t shy away from the violence, providing kills that are both inventive and graphic in nature.

There are some callbacks to popular horror films of the past. The bachelorette party pass a piece of roadkill on their way to their weekend getaway, reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. However, Sissy doesn’t allow these references to take over the plot. It’s very much doing its own thing, but simply tipping its hat to clear inspirations.

Sissy manages to make a skincare face mask genuinely eerie. You’ll never look at one the same way again. Barlow and Senes craft a slasher with a passion that comes through in their film about the consequences of caring too much about what people think. Sissy is a delectably funny and gory horror feast.

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