This Shudder Horror Movie With a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes Turns an Influencer Into a Slasher (2024)

The Big Picture

  • Social media influencers' twisted portrayal in horror films as liars blurs reality vs. online space dynamics.
  • Sissy cleverly parodies wellness influencer culture, turning rejuvenation into retribution with subtle jabs.
  • Sissy blurs the distinction between villains and victims, making all characters detestable in its critique of influencer culture.

Influencers have become a fun archetype in modern horror, becoming the perfect stalking victim or manipulative villain — but always a liar to varying degrees. So, what happens when an influencer with childhood trauma goes on a hen's weekend with a former bully? In Shudder's deranged slasher-comedy,Sissy, we witness how said childhood trauma becomes twisted by the sociopathic wellness industry and the performative nature of influencer culture. To do this, Sissy implements its own twist on these two spaces, turning rejuvenation into retribution, and an online community into a cult. Australian director and writer duo, Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, modernize the outback slasher in this chaotic and somewhat satirical jab at influencer culture, making bold strokes in its vibrant and schlocky finale. Though the premise is recycled, and the execution is typical in all its gory glory, Sissy's clever and subtle parodies of both of these millennial spaces, from the iconography used to the detestable characters, make for relatable, cringe-worthy, and fresh moments in this underappreciated horror.

This Shudder Horror Movie With a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes Turns an Influencer Into a Slasher (1)




Cecilia, a thriving social media influencer, is invited to her childhood best friend Emma's bachelorette weekend at a secluded cabin. As Cecilia reunites with old acquaintances, buried tensions and past traumas resurface, leading to a series of unsettling events. The idyllic weekend quickly descends into chaos, forcing Cecilia to confront her fears and the consequences of her past.

Release Date
September 29, 2022

Hannah Barlow , Kane Senes

Aisha Dee , Yerin Ha , Lucy Barrett , Daniel Monk , Hannah Barlow , Emily De Margheriti

102 minutes
Main Genre

Hannah Barlow , Kane Senes

Influencers Are Growing Popular in Horror Films

With every new invention, advancement, and idea, the horror genre expands accordingly and is always able to accommodate a new way to terrify. Social media, in particular, has become a gold mine for all things dark and grotesque in film. The evolving influencer archetype in horror nearly always paints them as liars, whether it be subtle or dramatic, allowing the genre to delve into the thematic concern of distinguishing reality from the online space. Sissy quickly sets up this dynamic with Cecelia (Aisha Dee) in front of a baby pink backdrop and a sickly sweet smile plastered on her face as she moves between chanting mantras and plugging "Elon Masks," then returning to the all too relatable dirty house, frozen pizza, and tracksuit life once the recording stops.

Cecelia is a mental health advocate in the wellness space, fostering a 200,000-follower community that showers her with positive affirmations, which she feasts on. But when she ventures out into the physical world and bumps into her former childhood friend, Emma (Barlow), this is the first meaningful physical interaction with a human we see from her. The camera cuts between each actor as they stare into the shaky lens, breaking the fourth wall while also engaging in this uncomfortable conversation. In this disorienting staging, Cecelia is almost affronted by this human interaction, with her direct eye contact with the camera bringing her down to the same physical realm as us. So far, the only meaningful interactions she has have been through her comments— after existing purely in the online space for a while now, crashing down to earth is as jarring and alien as this interaction is.


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As such, after reconnecting with the tangible world during a night out on the town with Emma, Cecelia dives into the deep end by agreeing to attend Emma's bachelorette getaway. When Cecelia learns that her childhood bully, Alex (Emily De Margheriti), will be there and reaches the house, the distinction between the online and physical realm begins to blur. Cecelia is constantly verbally attacked by Alex over a traumatic incident from their past and feels isolated in a house full of strangers, leading her to look through her online feed to ironically ground herself. Even the setting of the getaway house is straight out of an influencer’s 2010 Pinterest board, with fake plants, wicker basket lamps, and geometric furniture. While this depiction of an influencer's almost sociopathic split in identity is not necessarily a ground-breaking insight, it creates a sound foundation for the literal and thematic bloodbath to come,

'Sissy' Twists the Wellness Influencer Space

This Shudder Horror Movie With a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes Turns an Influencer Into a Slasher (3)

If you've ever realized halfway through a trip that your traveling companions are actually insufferable, (or if you've ever just been stuck in Canberra, Australia really), Cecelia reaching her breaking point is not too surprising. Isolated by the group as they question the credibility of her vocation and her friendship with Emma, Cecelia's self-esteem slowly crumbles and her frustration rises. The modernized outback setting of a more backyard bush area, rather than typical central Australia, still creates that alienating sense of doom and vastness, becoming the perfect backdrop for Cecelia to experience a break from reality. While an influencer snapping and going on a murderous rampage is nothing groundbreaking, Sissy's most successful jabs at the wellness space and influencer culture are subtle and clever.

As the body count rises, Cecelia uses iconography from the wellness space to carry out her acts of violence. The film turns a rose quartz crystal, a bath with healing salts, a calming natural view, and a pink rope that represents a protective personal boundary into explicit weapons — a wickedly delightful form of satire when you notice it. Transforming the staples of the wellness subset of influencing into their more malevolent counterparts makes a twisted mockery of the consumerist healing space. Sissy also takes this a slight step further with Fran's (Lucy Barrett) death, as Cecelia runs over the vet's already shattered body, claiming that it is the "humane" thing to do. Connected to an earlier scene in the film, putting roadkill out of its misery becomes a symbol of Cecelia's rapid deterioration, as she turns something that is usually considered humane into an act of depravity.

Who Do We Root For in 'Sissy?'

Sissy's satirical critique of influencer culture is also emphasized by the fact that there is really no one to root for in the film. Sissy skilfully blurs the distinction between villains and victims, making every character detestable in their own way. Alex begins as the big bad villain as we enter the weekend from Cecelia's perspective. She relentlessly bullies Cecelia, even as an adult, making the initial revenge plot feel thrilling. Even Emma, who is a bystander to Alex's bullying, becomes unlikable in her hypocritical passivity. The rest of the group become fodder for Cecelia's murderous rage, with their deaths almost becoming a relief, as we are now free of their grating mental health jargon popularized by social media and their superficial obsession with a Love Island parody plastered on the TV. This is reminiscent of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, where the wealth of loathsome characters allows for the horror comedy to focus on the grisly deaths while making fun of the idiosyncrasies of a generation.

While everyone on the trip becomes instrumental in Cecelia’s breaking point, Cecelia herself also becomes hard to root for. The film may begin as a revenge story, but it quickly spirals into an incoherent and schlocky slasher, stripping any empathy we had for Cecelia away. Dee toes the line between being sympathetic and mercilessly psychopathic, but it is her breaks from the physical realm that truly make her character unsettling. Between kills, she often creates a video about mental health or goes live to speak to her online followers, becoming the stereotypical influencer that we have learned to distrust. Her performative and superficial behavior is an unnerving contrast to the primal emotions driving her tangible actions. While we can sympathize with her, we can't necessarily root for her.

Childhood Trauma and Influencer Culture Merge in 'Sissy'

Cecelia's descending character progression is also highlighted by the almost euphoric breaks from reality she experiences every time she looks for validation in the online space. Every time the horror of her actions begins to catch up to her, she uses the cult-like comments of her followers to fuel her self-esteem and psychosis, behaving like an addict vying for a hit. As such, Sissy also explores how influencer culture interacts with childhood trauma in the most twisted way. Cecelia is propelled through the bloodbath by her online alter ego, the split in her identity allowing for the strange mix of control and disarray in her kills. Her online self is more sociopathic and controlling, allowing for the physical Cecelia, who is wracked with trauma and emotion, to strike a balance between hot rage and cold murder.

It's also interesting to see how the young Cecelia's wish for everything to remain the same and never wanting to grow up becomes somewhat true. Like in her home videos as a child, Cecelia grows up to remain in front of the camera. Reconnecting with Emma, especially in that unpredictable finale, almost feels like an attempt to heal her inner child by sordidly making her wishes come to life in a pantomime way. Once again, Sissy takes a final jab at the wellness industry, as Cecelia's own healing journey is littered with violence and gore. As such, Sissy adds to the burgeoning subgenre of influencer horror through its twisted portrayal of online creators and its satirical use of the wellness space as a means of violence.

Sissy is available to stream now on Shudder in the U.S.


This Shudder Horror Movie With a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes Turns an Influencer Into a Slasher (2024)
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