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Film / Sissy (2022)

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Sissy is a 2022 Australian Slasher Horror Comedy film directed and written by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes. Barlow also stars as one of the co-leads.

Cecilia AKA "Sissy" (Aisha Dee) is a successful social media influencer who one day runs into her former best friend, Emma (Barlow). Invited to a bachelorette weekend, Cecilia soon finds herself stuck at a remote cabin with her former childhood bully, Alex (Emily De Margheriti) and develops a taste for revenge...

The film premiered on the streaming service Shudder in 2022 and later had a theatrical release in the same year.

Previews: Trailer

This film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Alex accidentally bashes Emma's face in when she runs in with a crutch, attacking after thinking she was after Cecilia.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Cecilia never shows any interest in men and no boyfriends or past lovers are discussed. However, she's completely besotted by the (gay) Emma, to the point of killing Fran when she finds out that Fran plans to take Emma away from her.
  • Arc Words:
    • "It was an accident."
    • "You are a good person."
  • Asshole Victim: Most of the people Cecilia kills are shown to be rude and obnoxious to her, with the two big exceptions being Fran and Emma, who are sympathetic to her plight (at least until realizing there’s something seriously wrong with her).
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Cecilia attempts to have a shocked reaction when Jamie accidentally uncovers Alex's corpse. It doesn't work.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While Cecilia is a good deal more sympathetic than most instances of this trope, she still kills everyone who mocked her at the party and successfully frames the deceased Alex for the massacre, which causes her fame to skyrocket and even gets her a book deal.
  • Bad Influencer: Alex is mentioned to be an influencer and is quite vapid and hostile. Cecilia is mentioned to be an even bigger influencer than her, and she ends up committing straight-up murder many times. She even films an "affirmations" video while she's attempting to bury Alex's body.
  • Bathtub Bonding: A variant as there's no water. Cecilia gets in the bathtub at Alex's vacation home to look through her phone at her social media after being attacked by Alex, with the group's approval. Emma comes in and gets in the bathtub to comfort her.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played straight when Cecilia beats herself up, nothing beyond a bloodied nose impacting her looks. Subverted to hell and back with everyone else, notably Tracy, Fran, and Emma.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Cruelly subverted. Alex comes back in the nick of time and intervenes in the climactic fight, but she accidentally kills the innocent Emma, who she was trying to save. The cop arrives and kills Alex right after, sealing Cecilia's alibi.
  • Black Comedy: Oh yes.
    • One particular moment has Jamie urinate on Alex's makeshift grave while high as a kite.
    • Another has Tracy pouring out a decanter of wine while watching a trashy Love Island-style show, while Cecilia cuts into her skin with a branch to fake an injury, in subdued agony as she does so.
    • Alex calling the police while screaming frantically results in the operator confusing her for a drunkard. The battery dies before any meaningful help can be granted.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with Cecilia's mantra she echoes to her fans.
  • Bound and Gagged: Emma for a while, after she figures out that Cecilia is the killer.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Fran and Emma are a lesbian couple. Jamie is Camp Gay. Cecilia is Ambiguously Gay.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Cecilia has one near the beginning, after having a nightmare where Alex forces her hand into her scarred cheek.
  • Character Catchphrase: Cecilia has "Sincerely, Cecilia" as her sign-off online. It becomes rich with Dramatic Irony as it's clear Cecilia is extremely delusional and selfish. "It's not my fault" seems to be a more accurate one to Cecilia's actual personality.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Elon Mask facemask that Cecilia promotes at the beginning of the film comes back when Cecilia kills Tracy.
    • What gives away Cecilia as the killer to Emma? The half of the friendship necklace she stole from Alex.
    • Jaime's crutch. It's what Cecilia uses to help kill him and Alex later finds it while crawling through the wild. She later uses it to accidentally kill Emma.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Tracy dies after falling into the tub and getting her hair sucked into the drain, scalping her while she also drowns.
    • Fran dies when Cecilia speeds up the car and suddenly brakes, sending her flying through the windshield. However, she's still alive after the crash, which results in Cecilia then driving the car over her head. And we get a close up in slow motion.
    • Emma is killed by a crazed Alex in a blind rage, who uses a crutch to beat her head into a pulp.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Cecilia's reaction to Alex calling her names as a kid? To stab her in the cheek with a trowel, which leaves a scar on her cheek to the present.
    • Cecilia kills Fran for trying to "take" Emma away from her to America.
  • Downer Ending: Cecilia murders everyone at the party, who while vapid, were mostly innocent, while she gets off scot-free by making herself out to be the victim. This results in her following blooming to the millions and nets her a book deal.
  • Dramatic Irony: Fran says to Cecilia that "I thought I was going to die out here" shortly before Cecilia Drives Like Crazy and then mows Fran down with the car.
  • Foreboding Carcass: After a first act where everything seems to be looking up for Cecilia (she reunites with Emma, she gets on well with Fran and Emma's new friends, she gets invited to Emma's hen), the camera lingers on a dead animal in the road as Cecilia drives past with a happy car. It's Five-Second Foreshadowing in a way because things immediately turn bad for Cecilia as Fran announces that Alex — Cecilia's enemy who Cecilia stabbed in the face — is going to the hen, too. But things get a lot worse from there, and everybody but Cecilia dies.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Emma invites Cecilia to her hen party, she texts her, "be there or DIE!" While Cecilia does not die, everyone else does.
    • In one flashback, when young Emma produces the trowel to bury her and Sissy's time capsule with, it's shot exactly like she's pulling a knife. Not long after, Sissy used that very trowel to stab Alex deep in the cheek during her first violent breakdown.
    • On the way to Alex's house, the car passes a dead kangaroo on the road, and then Cecilia hits another, with Fran electing to crush its head with the car to put it out of its misery. Cecilia will later pick up Fran on the side of the road, and in a breakdown, sends her flying out the windshield, dying on the road. She echoes Fran's actions by driving over Fran to end her misery and complete the murder.
    • Cecilia is haunted by a Spooky Painting in Alex's house. Late in the film, it's revealed she sees the jeering face of young Alex bullying her when she looks at the painting.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: What drives Cecilia to murder? Hearing Emma's group of friends mock her.
  • Hapless Self-Help: By the end of the movie, Cecilia has graduated from being a Bad Influencer to a full-time self-help guru, complete with her own self-help book about how her affirmations helped her to survive a gruesome massacre. The gruesome massacre that she perpetuated, framing Alex for it in the process.
  • Homage: Several aspects of the third act are borrowed from The Descent. In The Descent, Beth grabs Juno's necklace and causes Sarah to figure out that Juno was cheating with Paul, Sarah's husband, before his death, and Juno accidentally kills Beth by mistaking Beth for one of the Crawlers. In this movie, Emma figures out that Cecilia killed Alex - though she didn't actually die - because Cecilia took her necklace, and then Alex - who didn't die - kills Emma after mistaking her for Cecilia, the killer.
  • Hypocrite: Cecilia gives a monologue about how Emma is "fake" and makes "everyone else feel like shit" by acting so high and mighty, while she herself lacks emotional sincerity or self-awareness and peddles unqualified mental health advice and considers herself a good person for it.
  • Improvised Weapon: A crutch is used as a bludgeoning tool, to quite a messy degree when Alex kills Emma.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not Sissy, it's Cecilia. Alex ruined the nickname "Sissy" for her by using it as an insult and inciting her first disturbing act of violence.
  • Ironic Echo: Fran runs over an injured kangaroo under the pretense, "it's the humane thing to do." Cecilia later kills her the exact same way while saying the same thing.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Downplayed. The whole night isn't stormy, but after Cecilia gets back to the house looking for Emma after killing Fran and spiraling into a full Villainous Breakdown, there's a lightning storm going on overhed.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Alex is cruel and does not tolerate Cecilia, but given their shared past where Cecilia physically scarred her in a brutal attack, Alex has zero reason to be kind or welcoming to her. Alex's points about Cecilia's influencer work are also sound, pointing out that she's unqualified to practice mental health assistance and functionally isn't doing much for the world.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • Cecilia has "I am not a sissy" to reinforce how much she hates that name. She becomes increasingly deranged after killing Alex and repeats it over and over.
    • Cecilia also has "I am a good person", including when she literally starts killing people over and over.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Alex insists on calling Cecilia by her hated nickname of Sissy as a reminder of just how much she dislikes her. She first did this to leverage "Sissy" as an insult, inciting the attack during their childhood.
  • Never My Fault: A massive facet of Cecilia's disordered thinking is a refusal to acknowledge how disproportionate and immoral her violence is, and she reassures herself constantly after any incident that it was an accident and that she is a good person.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A surviving Alex returns to the house at the height of Cecilia's breakdown and starts swinging a crutch to deliver a merciless beating. Too bad she was beaten so badly her vision is still impaired, leading her to murder her friend Emma by mistake, not Cecilia. Cecilia delivers a chilling "thank you" when Alex realizes what just happened—she's validated Cecilia's intended cover story about Alex being the psychotic killer this whole time, and a cop is there as a witness who then kills Alex to rescue Cecilia.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: How is Emma rewarded by inviting her friend to her bachelorette party? By learning her fiancée died and getting her head caved in with a crutch by the host.
  • Nonconformist Dyed Hair: Cecilia dyes her dark hair pink for Emma's hen party, mimicking a pink wig she wore in a childhood video with Emma. While at the hen party, she reveals that she's a Psycho Lesbian obsessed with Emma who brutally kills the entire party. After she ties up Emma, she also dyes her hair pink so they can match and fully recreate the video.
  • Not Quite Dead: Alex is thought dead after getting bashed in the back of the head with a rock and getting half-buried. She later wakes up, though with a massive head wound, and crawls back to the house in time to accidentally beat Emma to death.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Poor Fran has an insane nonverbal reaction akin to this when she realises that Cecilia intends to run her over.
    • Alex has an equally insane reaction, complete with a scream, when she realises that she killed Emma by mistake.
  • Police Are Useless: In two major ways, the police inadvertently screw the situation to the worst outcome:
    • First, Alex tries to make an emergency call only to be mistaken for a drunk harasser—by the time the cop actually takes it seriously, the phone Alex is using dies.
    • Later, Emma calls the police more coherently, only for the cop's arrival to be late enough that he sees Alex after murdering Emma by mistake and kills her, letting the true murderer Cecilia escape unsuspected and build a life as the "sole survivor" of the massacre she was truly responsible for.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: While Emma is openly gay, Cecilia is Ambiguously Gay and completely besotted by her. The two were clearly extremely close as kids, and meeting Emma again sends Cecilia into a spiral. She stares at Emma in open adoration and immediately goes back to watch videos of the two of them together, and it's indicated that she wants to leverage the bachelorette weekend as a way to take Emma back by reminding her of their childhood with a pink hair dye and their old time capsule.
  • Psycho Lesbian:
    • Averted by Emma and Fran, who are the two nicest people in the film.
    • Cecilia is Ambiguously Gay and has been obsessed with Emma since they were kids, though the "ambiguous" part gets more or less confirmed when Cecilia admits that all she wanted was to be loved by Emma. She murders Fran because Fran is Emma's fiancee and "stole" Emma from her.
  • Rich Bitch: Alex is a textbook example of this, owning a lavish home while being incessantly mean. Not all of her cruelty is justified by Cecilia brutally attacking her in their childhood, since she was clearly always a mean person as the attack itself was prompted by her being very mean to Cecilia, even if it was Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Sanity Slippage: Cecilia clearly has some kind of interpersonal disorder to start with, but she gets worse and worse as the film progresses, with her seeing hallucinations and regressing into her mental "safe space" of beliefs where she and Emma are destined companions.
  • The Sociopath: Alex calls Cecilia a psychopath early in the film. The events of the film pretty much prove her as an example of this instead. Cecilia has only one person (Emma) she seems to truly care for, to the point of unhealthy possessivenesss, and is otherwise solely invested in how she's perceived by the masses and emotionless toward the people she kills. However, unlike most examples, Cecilia does not have much superficial charm nor a skill for manipulation—she's very awkward in-person with people and does very badly at hiding what she's done.
  • Sole Survivor: The only person alive at the end of the spree is Cecilia, who successfully framed Alex as the murderer and is living off the narrative that she was the lone survivor of her massacre.
  • Spooky Painting: Cecilia is unnerved by a caricatured portrait in Alex's living room. Later, she gets reminders of young Alex's face from the portrait and it's seen animated during a hallucination where it repeats Alex's taunts.
  • Symbolic Glass House: The very rich Alex has a glass vacation home, where the others tease Cecilia and make fun of her. It gets utilized when Cecilia wounds herself beside the house while watching Tracy watch a reality TV show through the glass walls.
  • Take That!: Influencers, new-age spirituality, and Gen Z social media culture are targeted by displaying a serial killer who depends on online likes for validation and uses spiritual mantras and pop-psychology therapy speak to deflect from her problems. Cecilia is a killer who convinces herself she's a good person, and seems to truly believe in her brand of spirituality to create a "safe space" from the world and reinforce one's own beliefs. She also tries to deflect the pain of her and Alex's past by speaking in therapy-mode (which Alex calls out as insincere), and checking her Instagram likes and public validation serves as a coping mechanism after emotionally tense and violent incidents where she feels rejected and lashes out.
  • Tap on the Head:
    • Cecilia bashes Alex over the head with a giant rock and buries her (though not very well). Though Alex has a gaping head wound, she wakes up a long while later (after Jamie has already found her), and is able to survive long enough to go back to the house, though [[spoiler:she mistakes Emma for Cecilia when she intervenes in the fight.
    • Fran is also knocked out when she's in the car accident. Though she seems badly injured, she is still able to crawl away until Cecilia drives back over her and demolishes her whole head.
    • Cecilia also bashes Emma over the head long enough to tie her up and dye and cut her hair, but Emma is able to fight back and get herself untied.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Fran is a lesbian and is also black. Downplayed in that Cecilia, the protagonist, is black and Ambiguously Gay.
  • Villain Protagonist: Cecilia is this, a sociopathic murderer who is obsessed with her standing on social media. She has a gigantic Villainous Breakdown throughout the whole film, which culminates in her sobbing Anguished Declaration of Love for Emma.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's pretty hard to discuss this film without disclosing the fact that Cecilia is The Sociopath and begins killing everyone.
  • White Mask of Doom: Invoked when Cecilia rises out of the bathtub wearing her Elon Mask beauty treatment, echoing a menacing serial killer in a white mask as she starts to turn on Tracy.
  • Within Arm's Reach: When Emma fights back against Cecilia, she strangles Cecilia with her own ties. Cecilia manages to drag herself around and stab Emma with the scissors she used on Emma's hair earlier. While it doesn't kill her, it does allow Cecilia to survive.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Cecilia beats the shit out of herself while setting up that she was attacked by Alex.
  • Yandere: Cecilia is this for Emma.