Sissy is a 2022 Shudder Original written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes.
It’s the story of influencer Sis…sorry, Cecilia (played spectacularly by Aisha Dee) who promotes mental health and wellness running into her childhood best friend Emma (the wonderful Hannah Barlow) and being invited to her hen’s night. (For those of you who don’t know what a hen’s night is, it’s what they call a bachelorette party in Australia, the UK and parts of Canada).
Cecilia encounters her childhood bully Alex (played by Emily de Margheriti in a performance that will make you loathe her character every time she opens her mouth) who wastes no time letting it be known that she still doesn’t care much for Cecilia’s existence. We’re given little glimpses and flashbacks of the three as kids, discovering how the friendship between Emma and Cecilia withers away and why Cecilia loathes being called Sissy.
This movie is a lot of fun and the characters are believable. We all have the friendships from our childhood that ended because at some point, the other person chose a cooler friend group. Some of us have been the Alex, making fun of the weird kid and trying to get her cool best friend to come over to our side. Some of us have been Cecilia, the weird kid who had her best friend stolen away from us by people who were popular and fun and normal. Some of us have been on both ends of this.
I remember as a kid learning in class that I wasn’t invited to my best friend’s party because I had suddenly become the weirdo. My hobbies were suddenly no longer cool my social credit had evaporated. I remember going home and crying to my parents that I didn’t understand why people didn’t like me and why it sucked that a person I spent every day with that summer no longer wanted me around.
I’m ashamed to admit this but I’ve also been on the other end of the spectrum. There was a time in sixth grade when I became part of the cool crowd and for some reason no longer deemed my best friend necessary. I cast him aside for the new group and no longer included him in things. (We became friends again and I’m happy to say that 26 years later we’re still best friends and make music together in two bands!)
I thought about those years a lot when I was watching this movie. Remembering being on both sides of the fence. Being hurt and hurting others. Wanting to lash out at the people who teased me and also being one of the little dick bags who did the teasing and needed to get a punch in the face.
You learn the reason why Alex hates Cecilia so much and why she finds it so funny that she’s now all about mental health and there was a small part of me that understood where both characters were coming from. Like I said, I’ve been on both sides here.
Things take a turn at the Hen’s gathering and people start ending up dead and this is part of where the movie shines. The kills are incredibly gory (much more than I was expecting considering how bright and colourful this movie is) and really creative. I audibly gasped several times watching it and actually said “God, damn” out loud to myself and my cats. Once this movie gets going, it’s an incredibly fun ride.
Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes kill it in both the writing and directing. The movie is colourful, creative and fun. Despite being a comedy the scripting is realistic. As a terminally online human I have met and known people who speak exactly like the characters do. Hannah Barlow also gives a great performance as Emma, the guilt ridden former best friend who is grappling with the shame of having cast her friend aside.
For me though, the best parts of this movie happen any time Aisha Dee is onscreen with Emily de Margheriti. They have great chemistry together and you really feel for the timid and out of place Cecilia grappling with the acerbic, cutting and vile Alex. I’d like to see them work together again because they’re incredibly natural onscreen.
I enjoyed this movie a lot. We’re almost in October now and so far this is my favourite movie of 2022 in any genre. It’s pretty, funny, moving and clever in all the right ways. I highly recommend it