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Review: Shudder’s ‘Sissy’ Is a Splendidly Chaotic Social Media Horror Comedy

4 out of 5 stars

Cecelia in Shudder's Sissy.

Break out your phone, your follower count, and your mantras, because it’s time to acknowledge the dark side of influencer culture. As much as people may seem alluring on their socials, they may be struggling immensely, though with a little filter and a perfectly articulated background, people won’t see that. Sissy—correction, Cecilia (Aisha Dee)—has certainly crafted her online presence for her 200k followers. People adore her, buy the products she advertises, and look to her for advice surrounding mental health issues, and meanwhile, Cecilia struggles inside—which this quirky horror comedy dives into pretty quickly.

The film follows the successful influencer Cecilia, who has a run-in with her former best friend after a decade. She’s then suddenly invited to Emma (Hannah Barlow)’s (very queer) bachelorette weekend, which is being held at the remote vacation spot of the girl who bullied Cecilia in high school. Naturally, that proves to be a disaster immediately because there’s a very intense history between them.

Since this is a horror comedy with a lot of social commentary, we’re given room to laugh and meditate on the messages, though Cecilia, as a character, isn’t someone to laugh at. She’s someone who you find it hard not to root for. Without giving away major spoilers about this movie, the trailer literally gives nothing away. It’s not obvious what’s meant to unfold from the trailer alone, so it’s hard to talk about without spoiling things, but something I will say is that Sissy’s mantra, “I am loved. I am special. I am enough. I’m trying my best. We all are,” isn’t effective for her. After all, she gets stuck in a remote area with a group of people who don’t like her. And that would drive almost anybody to lose their shit.

Sissy explores the ways in which influencer culture can be incredibly toxic. Trying to be perfect all the time isn’t healthy because it’s unachievable, especially as someone who is marginalized in this society. The ways in which Cecilia clamors for acceptance outside of herself are heartbreaking. All the attention that she wants from Emma isn’t worth trying to get. As the movie unfolds, it’s revealed that Emma may not have been that great of a bestie, and that Cecilia’s nostalgia is what’s driving her need for acceptance—something that’s certainly not a foreign experience.

The film will appeal to those who love horror comedies and chaos in their horror in general—in particular, chaotic women and how that’s often depicted in horror as freeing. Aisha Dee’s performance balances tenderness and chaos so well. It’s really not every day that you get to see Black women do that in horror. Her gradual descent into unhinged glee is chef’s kiss, and it shows off her range, as most people know her as Kat Edison on The Bold Type. And given her filmography, this is Aisha Dee’s first horror movie!

If you don’t already have an account with horror streamer Shudder, then I highly recommend you subscribe. You’ll be able to watch Sissy, when it hits the service on September 29, and revel in the stylish clothes and Australian accents, not to mention plenty of bloody moments.

(featured image: Arcadia and Shudder)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.