The Sisterhood of Night

Dir: Caryn Waechter
Star: Georgie Henley, Kara Hayward, Kal Penn, Olivia DeJonge

The feud between teenage girls Emily (Hayward) and Mary (Henley) blows up beyond usual high-school drama, after Emily accuses Mary of running a cult group called "The Sisterhood", whose rituals supposedly include sex magic, blasphemy and mutilation of wannabe acolytes. The sleepy, upstate New York town of Kingston is rocked to its core by the claims, even as Mary denies them completely - but refuses, along with the other members, to reveal exactly what their secret group, who meet at night in the local woods, actually is. The press descends on Kingston, and further allegations emerge - but is there a genuine issue, or is this simply attention-seeking behaviour? Adding to the murkiness, Mary spends the night at the house of a school counsellor (Penn), and the local hysteria builds towards a tragic Halloween night.

The first half of this works better than the second, though I was somewhat surprised to realize I had lost interest. This may be because it gradually falls off into something much closer to standard teen drama than the escalating paranoia depicted, much more effectively, early on. The theme here appear to be that parents worry too much about the things they shouldn't, and ignore the problems they should, but it could also be summed up as "teenage girls lie". There are some issues with the story; it's just implausible to think that none of the participants' parents are capable of exercising any kind of control over their offspring, or that Mary wouldn't simply 'fess up under the increasing pressure from all sides. It's more effective at depicting the role of social media, and is nicely even-handed there, with it being shown as a force for both positive and malicious change. However, just like that social media, a little goes a long way and there's not much here you couldn't glean from a couple of hours on Tumblr.

[May 2016]

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