Bullied at school and carrying the memory with her, Cecilia has not only moved past the hold that trauma once held over her, visualising an invisible boundary which protects her personal space and leaves her untouchable, she has monetised her reinvented self, an Internet lifestyle coach who promotes positivity and thrives on the adoration of the two hundred thousand followers of Sincerely Cecilia.

The remnants of the past which Cecilia had thought buried are brought to the surface by a chance encounter at the pharmacist with Emma, her sole friend at school whom she has not seen for years, soon to be married and keen to reconnect and have Cecilia at a gathering that weekend at a luxurious cabin in the outback, failing to mention that Cecilia’s nemesis Alex who taunted her as “Sissy the sissy” will also be there.

Any healing of old wounds entirely superficial, Sissy is written and directed by Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow, the latter also starring as the well-intentioned Emma, her enthusiasm overriding any sense of whether bringing two people bearing such bitter grudges together in a confined space is a good idea, while Aisha Dee is Cecilia, her veneer of self-control under assault from all sides and her mantras offering no comfort.

An echo chamber of old memories returning to haunt Cecilia, the bullying was real as Emma pointedly reminds Alex (Emily De Margheriti) who prefers to see herself as the blameless victim of Cecilia’s unprovoked attack which left her scarred; perhaps had she been warned Alex could have prepared herself, but blindsided she regresses to her vicious childhood persona and summons her cohort to back her, mocking Cecila’s attempts at rapprochement.

Running a shade longer than necessary and with dialogue sometimes lost under the soundtrack, particularly in scenes by the river, does Cecilia become the monster the others accuse her of being too easily? The film is ambiguous as to whether it was years of bullying, self-loathing and guilt which made her such or if she always was, focused instead on the present and the immediate problem of where to hide the sudden influx of bodies.

The flashbacks uncomfortable viewing while the repercussions are played more for laughs, the tagline for Sissy simply reads triggered, presenting two individuals whose shared past dictates that they should never have been brought together without safeguards and safe spaces in place, their history of bad blood ready to gush forth in a new tragedy counterpointed by the reality television show Paradise Lust which plays in the background, awful people rewarded for behaving terribly.

Having screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Sissy will be available on Shudder from Thursday 29th September



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