Glitter and gore abound in equal measure in Sissy, the smart and stylish Australian millennial horror from directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes. Cecilia, AKA the titular “Sissy” (Aisha Dee), is a mental health advocate and Instagram influencer whose Lives and Reels promote self-esteem, boundaries, and self-acceptance to her 200k followers—concepts near and dear to the heart of the formerly bullied Cecilia, who has spent her young adulthood collecting tools and practices related to trauma recovery and self-love.
After the self-care guru runs into her childhood BFF Emma (Hannah Barlow) in the pharmacy (whilst shopping for tampons with the brand name Bloody Brilliant, no less), she hesitates to reconnect but agrees to attend her karaoke engagement party that evening. There, she becomes acquainted with Emma’s fiancée Fran (Lucy Barrett) and friends Tracey (Yerin Ha) and Jamie (Daniel Monks), and scores an invitation to the couple’s shared bachelorette weekend.
The only problem? The event is being held at the beautiful (and rather remote) vacation home of Alex (Emily De Margheriti), Cecilia’s childhood tormentor and Emma’s new BFF.
While Emma may have envisioned a water-under-the-bridge reunion scenario, the tension upon arrival is immediately palpable. As the ill-fated weekend progresses, the true and unexpected history between the three women is gradually revealed…and the inevitable confrontation between Cecilia and her bully turns the celebration of love into the #WorstWeekendEver.
Sissy doesn’t shy away from its violence, racking up a series of gruesome kills (including, ironically, a bludgeoning scene featuring an enormous chunk of rose quartz—gotta love the vibes!). While none are particularly inventive, they’re all well-executed. Sissy enthusiastically revels in its own viciousness, with the camera lingering delightedly on each spurt, tear, thump, or smush, and emojis, Instagram filters, and sparkly effects sprinkled in throughout the film balance the sugar and the spice.
Sissy is concerned with toxic relationships, not only between people but between people and their social media. Even as her life falls into irreparable chaos, Cecilia finds comfort and peace in her notifications, each DM or mention serving up a shot of blissful dopamine—a phenomenon only too familiar to many of the film’s viewers, I’m sure. No matter where you stand on the issue of culpability or blame, Dee’s Cecilia remains likeable, vulnerable, and relatable throughout; the ultimate problematic fave whom you just can’t seem to unfollow.