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Sissy (Fantasia 2022 Film Review)

3 min read

There have been a stream of films and TV shows about the darker side of social media and influencers. Treading lightly on certain issues and how trying to keep up appearances burns people out and questioning their honesty. This has taken form in various genres and on the surface, Sissy could easily be lumped in with the rest of the horror and dark comedy blends out there. Luckily, Sissy offers an off kilter and simpler approach to ‘the other side of influencers' and puts a spotlight on a fractured character that has never healed from childhood bullying trauma. It's twisted and fantastically executed, with the ray of deadly sunshine that is Aisha Dee, our Cecilia aka ‘Sissy'.

Cecilia is a self-proclaimed mental health advocate, in other words, an influencer. One day she bumps into her old childhood best friend Emma who has she hasn't seen in years. After a drunken night and wanting to reconnect, Emma invites Cecilia to her intimate hen do. But has also invited Alex, Cecilia's bully. Old wounds are reopened and Alex, jealous of Cecilia's success and unwilling to forgive her for past events, the weekend takes a surprisingly deadly turn as Cecilia's already fractured facade begins to break.

It's always interesting to see how bullying is handled in films, particularly when the victim violently lashes out. Usually, it's the victim who is seen as the villain because of their actions and no ever questions the actual bully. Sissy does fall into this trap at first but when the bodies pile up, its starts to become difficult to lay the blame on one individual. There is a careful and quiet build up to bloodshed which is ominous in itself as we are just waiting for Cecilia to crack. The opening video she makes, she uses a special rope to create a boundary and it's this line that is crossed that ultimately makes her defend herself. There is sympathy for Cecilia immediately but once we find out more about her background, there is a shift and we start to question the motives of Emma and Alex. There is far more beneath the surface in their past and not everything is brought to light which means we are left to draw our own conclusions about certain things.

Despite the drama between school friends, there is the darkest of comedic moments, particularly in the snarky comments from the other hen do guests and in the chain of events that Cecilia unwittingly sets off. Her reaction to the deaths are mortifying and humorous at the same, how much bad luck can one person have? But the most bloody and funny moment, also pierced with devastation is one of the final scenes. It is satisfying but brutal, maybe not everyone will find it as amusing.

Writers and directors Hannah Barlow (who also plays Emma) and Kane Senes have created a memorable twisted story with unexpected comedy. Sissy is at home within the programming of Fantasia Film Festival, alongside the other horror genre films but stands out thanks to that climactic end.

Sissy screened at this year's Fantasia Film Festival