26 September 2023


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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Writer/directors: Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, Freedom Films, Academy of Interactive Entertainment, Arcadia, DEMS Entertainment, ACT Government and Screen Canberra.

Arriving just in time for Halloween, Sissy is a darkly comedic horror, a satirical nightmare directed at the self-victimising child within all of us.

Couldn’t quite decipher a comedy angle to this, but it does have some exaggerated elements worthy of note as social commentary. In point of fact, it’s the type of horror movie that wholly comprehends what it is and incorporates its illogicality.

Writer/directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes take audiences into a world that speaks on bullying in what becomes a cat-and-mouse game. Sissy is a rollercoaster ride that could wrest a grin or two.

Cecilia aka Sissy (Aisha Dee, The Bold Type, The Saddle Club) and Emma (Hannah Barlow, The Armoire, Two Sentence Horror Stories) were tween-age BFFs who were going to grow old together and never let anything come between them. That is, until Emma’s new friend Alex (Emily De Margheriti) did just that. She enters the picture and puts a wedge in their friendship.

It’s 12 years later and Cecilia is a successful social media influencer living the dream of an independent, modern millennial woman … until she runs into Emma who invites her away on her hen’s weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains. The invitation is much to the dismay of maid-of-honour Alex, who proceeds to make Cecilia’s weekend a living hell ― until Cecilia snaps.

Sissy is a satirical look at millennial self-victimisation in the social media age. Disturbingly unrestrained.

As the directors say: Cecilia’s talent for burying her sad, lonely, trauma-fuelled existence by positioning herself online as a ‘mental health advocate’ makes her cringingly relatable … because aren’t we all actively highlighting the best fragments of ourselves to cancel out our worst?

When one is confronted, unexpectedly, past triggers are set off. Cracks appear in a story to expose “our narcissism, comparison anxiety, toxic friendships and pathological suppression of ‘self’ at all costs.” How far are we willing to go to keep the façade a fact ― in a ‘post-truth world’?

  • Sissy begins screening in cinemas nationally on 27 October

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