I don’t understand influencers, and I’m okay with that. I don’t follow them, and I don’t feel the need to be one. I don’t really think they have any longevity and will eventually become irrelevant. Tell you how I really feel, right?
I was lucky enough to check out the new film Sissy, when it premiered at SXSW, and it showed again at this year’s Overlook Film Festival, where it took home the Audience Award. Rightfully so, because the film is spectacular. It’s about Cecilia (played by Aisha Dee, who is ah-mazing in The Bold Type)—Sissy to her friends—”a successful social media influencer living the dream, until she runs into her childhood ex-best friend and is invited away on her bachelorette weekend. Suddenly, Sissy finds herself stuck in a remote cabin with her school bully… and a taste for revenge.” Sissy has already been acquired by Shudder, so it will be available soon. To celebrate the film playing the Overlook Film Festival 2022, I chatted with star Emily De Margheriti, who played the aforementioned bully, Alex, about why she wanted to be in the film, what she brought to her character, what’s up next, and more!
PopHorror: I loved Sissy so freaking much.
Emily De Margheriti: Yay!
PopHorror: I’m super excited to speak with you.
Emily De Margheriti: Beautiful! I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was good fun.
PopHorror: I saw that Sissy won the Overlook Film Festival’s Audience Award. How does that feel?
Emily De Margheriti: Pretty incredible, especially because I was the only one going there to represent the film. It genuinely was the audience’s reaction and response to it that I thought was pretty cool. It was strictly the audience of New Orleans, and people voted for it. They picked it, and for me, that is huge.
PopHorror: That’s so awesome! So what intrigued you about the film and made you want to be a part of the project?
Emily De Margheriti: Social media is such an interesting… It’s all around us at the moment. And this is such an era for social media and the world we live in. We’re always using our phones… like watch The Simpsons, for example. Seeing how they use mobile phones in that, it’s like wow. We really use them that much, and we really do use social media that much. And I just find that exploring the negative aspects of social media and what that could look like—like how far can you go—would you look at your friends the same after that? And yeah, I just found that interesting, like a horror that’s very much very relevant to today’s times. The writers explained to me that they developed it from a social media influencer called Belle Gibson in Australia. She pretended to have cancer, and she profited from people’s pain. Legitimately terrible. She profited from people who had cancer. Awful, awful.
Emily De Margheriti: Seeing that people can use that platform for evil and just exploring that. And you know, people as well. We don’t intentionally go out to do that. I always like to see the best in people. Like Emma my character, I’m probably more like her in real life. She’s kind, I would say.
I truly believe you can look at it like there’s different characters that could potentially be the bad guy. Female friendships… I find that female friendships aren’t always black and white. Sometimes you can pick a side. But with Emma, she’s very, very kind, and sometimes she enables that kind of behavior. I think that is me as well. You’ve got the enabler, the one that’s too kind. Exploring female friendships, I find them so fascinating, especially because the bully’s been hurt, too. The bully is also being bullied, so I get upset when people are mean about Alex, and I think that I wanted to play her because she’s such an interesting character. She’s not just the mean girl. She’s more than that. She’s been through a lot of trauma, a lot of abuse.
You can easily pick one side or the other, and I can definitely speak to both sides on that. Just because someone comes to themselves in a certain way doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. I think they just have boundaries, and that’s important. So I think it was exploring female friendships, social media, mental health, and how that can be seen through social media, the dopamine hit, that sort of thing. It’s interesting to explore, and I found it very visceral and something that I would want to watch. Kill Bill meets Ingrid Goes West.
PopHorror: It’s scary how much social media has infiltrated our lives and how it affects our lives.
Emily De Margheriti: It affects everything, doesn’t it? Our mood, day to day, everything in our lives. It infiltrates our lives in a way. You wake up in the morning, and you grab your phone first thing. You’re welcoming 10,000 million or however many people you follow, into your life, into your bedroom. You’re just welcoming them into the bedroom. I don’t think it’s healthy to do that kind of thing. You need a moment; you need to meditate. I think there’s a balance. People don’t realize how much they use social media.
PopHorror: No, they don’t.
Emily De Margheriti: Because I use Instagram myself, it was interesting exploring that because I personally do not think it’s very healthy. I think other platforms are good to use. Being away from family, I use the WhatsApp, and sometimes it can be used for good. But sometimes it’s unhealthy.
PopHorror: After reading the script, was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?
Emily De Margheriti: I think bringing a subtle vulnerability to her was really important to me. I was exploring different mean girls, like Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls and Rose Byrne in Bridesmaids. I was exploring these characters. Even if very, very, hurt, I wanted to make sure I held that hurt and that pain. Honestly, it was very uncomfortable. I didn’t realize it was going to be as uncomfortable as it was on set for me, but it was.
It was interesting to explore what it was like to be the villain. And I think now I should really, really empathize with others who maybe have been that person in the past and have bullied people, because I think that bullies have been hurt as well. They’ve gone through something, and they’re a survivor. I think I just wanted to explore that, and that’s what I got gathered from it.
PopHorror: I see a little bit of horror in your previous credits. Were you a horror fan before making the film?
Emily De Margheriti: I started watching a lot of horror when I was younger But now, I watch more satirical horror, which I really, really enjoy. I enjoy having a laugh. Kind of messed up. So my favorite horror is satirical horror.
PopHorror: What is up next for you?
Emily De Margheriti: Next for me… I am attached to two movies at the moment, and I’m putting on a play in LA with my friends. Really funny, but kind of messed up. And I’m going to be putting out another short film about sugar daddies, because I find that really interesting. Like what is that? Just a bunch of fun projects. I’m going to be working with Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow [writer/directors of Sissy] again. I just love them to death, and I want to make more movies with them.
PopHorror: I am here for that because I enjoyed Sissy so much. I’m excited to hear you’re teaming up with them again. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
Emily De Margheriti: Yes, you will!
PopHorror: I just have one last question for you today. What is your favorite scary movie?
Emily De Margheriti: My favorite scary movie… Okay let me think. The Shining, maybe? My favorite? Oh God, that’s really hard. I don’t know. My favorite scary movie… I want to say Kill Bill, but I know that’s not necessarily scary.
Thank you so much, Emily, for taking the time to speak to us. Be sure to catch Sissy, currently on its festival run.