SISSY (SXSW 2022) – Review by Leslie Combemale

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Australian writer/directors Hanna Barlow and Kane Senes bring mean girls, social media savagery, fear of being cancelled, the repercussions of childhood trauma, and gore, gore, gore to their comedy horror mashup Sissy. Aisha Dee is both luminescent and looney tunes as the title character Sissy, or as she has calls herself to her 200,000 IG followers, Cecilia.

Cecilia is a popular self-help guru sending out messages of love, self-acceptance, and inner peace on social media and making bank doing it. When she runs into ex-childhood bestie Emma (Hanna Barlow), Emma begs her to come to her bachelor party weekend. Cecilia says yes, but discovers when she gets to the party house it belongs to Alex, the girl she believes broke up her friendship all those years ago. Things go terribly wrong from there, many deaths ensue, and gallons of blood is splattered in the process.

The film has a very Cabin in the Woods feel, and several portents of what’s to come are offered in a rather heavy-handed way, including a kangaroo carcass with flies buzzing above it . Within 20 minutes, I’m screaming “get outta there, girl!” to poor Sissy. But, really, I don’t care about her. Who is there to root for, when she, and everyone are all so horrible? This being fiction, I don’t feel wrong in saying these characters have no redeeming qualities and I find myself not caring whether any of them live or die. This is ‘Poor Choice Central’. Everyone repeatedly makes the worst choices. Who, if anyone, will be the final girl?

The score is full of brave choices, but it overwhelms some of the scenes, sometimes even drowning out the dialogue, but hats off the the composer Kenneth Lampl, who clearly channels Bernard Herrmann as well as other masters of horror music.

The setup of Sissy is interesting, but audiences have no one to root for, the plot is fairly predictable, and it’s hard to totally buy into how unhinged the true perpetrator of the film is. It does make a dramatic and negative commentary on the artifice of social media personas. Without question, the performers are the best part of the film, committing 100% to their roles, especially Aisha Dee, who definitely has a future as a scream queen, or a screen queen, if she so chooses.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale writes as Cinema Siren on her own website,, and is a frequent contributor to MPA's, where she interviews filmmakers above and below the line, with a focus on women and diverse voices. She is the Senior Contributor at Leslie is in her 9th year as producer and moderator of the influential "Women Rocking Hollywood" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. She is a world-renowned expert on cinema art and her film art gallery, ArtInsights, located near DC, has celebrated cinema art and artists for 30 years.