SXSW 2022: Sissy

Directed by: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senses
Distributed by: Shudder

Written by Jeff Sparks


First appearing at South by Southwest, “Sissy” is a film made by the filmmaking duo of Kane Senses and actress Hannah Barlow who also plays a crucial character in her own film. The film stars Aisha Dee, Emily De Margeriti, and Barlow and tells the story of Cecilia (Dee) an influencer who reunites with two high school friends who bring out the worst in her, leading to deadly consequences. The film opens up with Cecilia preaching about mental health on her page then immediately switching over and reading off unrelated advertisements, giving off the impression she may not be as focused on mental health as she may seem. Soon she bumps into a high school friend named Emma (Barlow) who invites her to an upcoming girls getaway prior to her wedding. Cecilia reluctantly agrees and fears she has made the wrong decision when she finds out a rival from school named Alex (Margheriti) has also been invited upon arrival.

After being at the root of a traumatic event from their childhood, Alex still pursues her grudge against Cecilia which resurfaces childhood trauma for both of them. Following this setup, the filmmakers attempt to take a look at themes such as lifelong trauma, bullying, and false influencers but they only take half measures with these themes and instead go straight down the worn old low budget slasher type road that you have seen before. The cast all do well enough, but there are no standout performances and some of the cast members are just scraping by in their roles.

“Sissy” is bogged down by common cliches you expect from indie thrillers such as unbelievable scenes, lack of continuity on where events take place, and of course the infamous scenes of victims not running away when the killer is distracted. As for the killer in the film, they’re not very interesting due to the psychotic break they experience not being convincing. Although the way the filmmakers portray the killer as not necessarily bad or good was a nice touch that buoyed the film. The work done by Barlow and Senses isn’t all bad though. The camera work is done better than you would expect from an indie project, coupled with a dreamlike score although it is too loud at times, obscuring the dialogue. The special effects here are done well too, which will appease fans who look for good gore in their horror. “Sissy” isn’t a bad film, it’s just the type of film you can use to kill one hour and forty-two minutes and then never think of again.

“Sissy” Trailer

“Sissy” was screened as part of the 2022 edition of the SXSW Film Festival.

You can follow Jeff Sparks on Instagram and Letterboxd.

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