SXSW 2022: Hannah Barlow And Kane Senes’ ‘Sissy’ – Movie Review

This year’s SXSW film festival is an exciting one, and once again, the task of picking a handful of movies to cover is difficult. With so much genre goodness available to experience, it’s nearly impossible to see everything you want. Yet one film in particular, Sissy, piqued my interest from the beginning with its simple premise involving childhood best friends reuniting after several years, only to embark on a remote weekend getaway from hell. Sissy, it turns out, is anything but simple. 

Sissy, known in adulthood as Cecilia (Aisha Dee), is a popular social media influencer complete with her own mantra that encourages personal growth and self-awareness. But in her everyday real life, she is meek and desperately needs the extreme validation she feels when she connects with her thousands of adoring online followers. On a visit to the drug store and in pure happenstance, Cecilia runs into Emma (co-creator Hannah Barlow), her pre-teen bestie from years prior. Their friendship was a strong one as demonstrated through dance routines, matching wigs, buried time capsules, and home movies. Something happened between Emma and Sissy, though. Why else would they have drifted so far apart? 

Visibly nervous, Cecilia reluctantly accepts the invitation to come along on Emma’s bachelorette weekend with her soon-to-be-wife, Fran (Lucy Barrett), and a few friends. As the prospect of reconnecting with her former best friend sinks in, Cecilia lights up, but the pieces of the story regarding their friendship, fed effectively throughout the film, keep us skeptical of how genuine (and stable) everyone is, especially when we find out Sissy’s old nemesis, Alex (Emily De Margheriti), is hosting the weekend’s festivities. 

Aisha Dee in Sissy

Written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, Sissy shines an uncomfortable albeit entertaining light on modern day mental health and social anxieties that are often exasperated with how social media plays out in our lives. The power of friendship and acceptance can be a doozy, and this film takes a wonderfully satirical stab at what many find important. Sissy, in particular the moral ambiguity of the titular character, creates a fascinating and conflicting viewing experience. 

Hannah Barlow in Sissy

The movie is stylish and wickedly funny, also managing to elicit some pretty eye-opening moments of gore that I was pleasantly surprised with. Beautifully filmed with a few nods to genre classics, Sissy also possesses some truly notable transition shots that I applaud. It shouldn’t be long before the masses can also enjoy Sissy. The mega horror streaming service, Shudder, acquired the exclusive streaming rights for the film just days before its World Premiere at SXSW, a good sign of quality entertainment. I can’t wait to hear what others take from Sissy. #triggered 

About Danni Winn

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